RIYADH: A new chapter in Saudi-Chinese relations was written during the recent visit of the leadership of Saudi Arabia to China, according to Sultan Mufti, the deputy governor of investment attraction and development at the Saudi Arabian General Investments Authority (SAGIA).
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, he said: “We've seen huge growth in Chinese companies in the Kingdom. There was a 100 percent increase in entry to the Saudi market in the first half of 2019 compared with last year.”
After the visit of the Chinese delegation to SAGIA last Thursday, Mufti explained how both countries share a strategic partnership: “There are a lot of commonalities between us. As G20 economies, we have enjoyed a long trade relationship and we are growing with our interesting initiatives, Saudi Arabia has Vision 2030 and China has the Belt and Road Initiative.
“There are a lot of opportunities in strategic sectors as a result of Vision 2030. The Belt and Road Initiative paves the way for China to enter the Saudi economy, and lots of Chinese companies will have expertise relevant to our plans.
“These sectors include petrochemical, manufacturing, mining power and renewable energy, in which Chinese companies have a lot of skills to bring to Saudi Arabia,” Mufti added.
He said that merging the initiatives will take the relationship to new levels.
Mufti also discussed the opening of an office for SAGIA in China: “The approval process has been done. We’re not waiting for the physical opening because we already have a team actively involved in marketing.”
He said that the highlight of the Chinese visit was the growing interest from companies wanting to know more about what Saudi Arabia has to offer: “At SAGIA and Invest Saudi, there are workshops where companies are meeting with specific teams with technical and commercial experience, where they can tell each company its relevance to the sector and the opportunities.
“These workshops will help them throughout their journey from the early exploration all the way to investment and starting their operations in the Kingdom.”
Mufti added that the growing interest is partly due to the reforms that are taking place in Saudi Arabia: “According to the latest report published by the World Bank, the Kingdom ranked fourth among the G20. Some of those important reforms include the establishment of arbitration centers, specialized commission courts, enhancing minority interest laws and improving the insolvency law.”
He said that the rise in the Saudi economy in recent years has been aided by reforms: “They are happening every day, every minute. It’s difficult to track the momentum because reforms are coming through under the umbrella of the Executive Committee for Improving the Performance of Private Sector Businesses (Tayseer), headed by Commerce and Investment Minister Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi.
“On a weekly basis, you will be seeing reforms coming up. There are about 500 reforms that have been identified, 45 percent have already been implemented and this number rises every week. That’s why we created Invest Saudi, because it helps investors track reforms, understand more about the opportunities and the support that they can get from SAGIA,” he added.
“SAGIA organizes global roadshows with sector experts that meet with each specific company and give them the information they need,” Mufti said.