Saudi businesses wary of Chinese coronavirus spread

The value of Saudi-Chinese commercial exchanges exceedes $65 billion, says expert. (Photo/Shutterstock)
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Updated 28 January 2020

Saudi businesses wary of Chinese coronavirus spread

  • Mixed reaction expressed over Beijing’s handling of the situation

MAKKAH: Saudi businesses have given mixed responses over the possibility of a decrease in trade between Saudi Arabia and China due to the recent coronavirus outbreak.

Some are worried for the future, others are blaming media scaremongering for overblowing the scale of the epidemic, and some say Beijing’s handling of the situation, with health care infrastructure already in place, will head off the spread of the condition.
“What is currently happening is an unjustified media amplification aimed at harming the pillars of China’s economy in favor of other economies,” said businessman Khalid Al-Shulail, an investor in production chains, medium-sized industries and construction materials.
“The health crisis is centered in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The impact could be limited to an increase in transport and shipping prices,” he said.
“All that is happening is the revival of old scenarios that happened with the SARS and swine flu epidemics. These are economic conflicts aimed at disrupting the growth of the Chinese economy as there are competing economies greatly benefitting from this situation,” he added.
However, Mohamed Fadl Al-Rahman, owner of Al-Hijaz Opticals chain, stated that the prolonging of the situation would damage his business.
“The primary impact started to become clear as businessmen stopped traveling to China and were unable to follow up on the updates of their fields,” he told Arab News, adding that accelerating infection rates now threatened the movement of goods because employees in many Chinese cities were staying at home.
“I have canceled a flight in early February due to health concerns and warnings I have received from my friends,” Al-Rahman said, noting that he would suffer significant losses if the situation persisted.
Abdulrahman Al-Maliki, a ceramics, porcelain and sanitary materials importer, said that he was waiting for goods to arrive, expressing his concern at the epidemic’s spread to other major Chinese cities.
“I fear that trade exchanges will stop, become longer or more complicated. We have all these obstacles in mind and their impact will be significant. We might resort to acquiring our needs from other markets, but not before suffering losses worth millions of riyals,” said Al-Maliki. China, he added, was the largest supplier of goods to the world, saying the value of Saudi-Chinese commercial exchanges exceeded $65 billion.
Abdulrahim Al-Andijani, owner of Beit Al-Arous shops, was bullish about the future of Saudi-Chinese trade.


MoU signed to facilitate investment in Saudi Arabia

Updated 21 February 2020

MoU signed to facilitate investment in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to step up cooperation, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

Under the MoU, the two authorities will establish a joint working group to boost cooperation in several areas including facilitation provided to investors, conducting economic studies of the market, building partnerships with commercial and industrial bodies and local companies, launching businesses, promoting the ease of doing business, providing logistic support, participating in local and international exhibitions, forums and special visits and exchanging knowledge and information.

All this will predominantly be in aid of attracting local and foreign investors. 

“SAGIA believes in the importance of such cooperation that can unify and multiply the efforts in a way that sets the world’s attention on the Kingdom’s cultural and heritage treasures and investment opportunities,” said SAGIA Gov. Ibrahim Al-Omar.

“This is done through close cooperation with DGDA to highlight these opportunities and market them internationally and locally. This MoU is a step in the right direction to achieve the objectives and directives of both bodies.”

Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the DGDA, said: “Cooperating with SAGIA is one of the most important international investment motors to attract local and international investments to the Kingdom. This comes at a time where developing the Kingdom’s investment infrastructure is found within the objectives of its Vision 2030.

“At DGDA, we aim at attracting the best technologies and regional and international investments to the Kingdom. This will contribute to the improvement of the local economy and promote our objectives seeking to turn Diriyah into the Kingdom’s gem and an international economic tourist destination,” he added.