RIYADH: Tariq Abdel Hadi Al-Qahtani, chairman of the Saudi-Russian Business Council (SRBC), has stressed the importance of conducting transactions in Russian rubles and Saudi riyals as part of efforts to strengthen the currencies of both countries and encourage increased bilateral trade.
Al-Qahtani, who headed last week’s SRBC meeting in Riyadh, also said they had come a long way in resolving the visa issue between the countries and there would be news on this soon.
Al-Qahtani, who is also chairman of the Saudi Gulf Airlines board of directors, said the two sides discussed ways to support air freight and maritime transport between the two states, “to enhance logistics services and facilitate import and export operations, especially facilitating the Saudi exports to Russia,” since there is no direct shipping route between the two countries.
Saudi-Russian relations have been developing considerably, especially economically, which has contributed to enhancing bilateral trade and investment cooperation, which reached SR5.5 billion ($1.47 billion) in 2018, a growth of 43 percent compared to the previous year.
Saudi exports to Russia represent just 2.5 percent of the volume of trade between the two countries. However, Al-Qahtani noted that the volume of Saudi-Russian trade did not fully reflect the importance of the economic links between the two countries, adding that “Saudi products are highly competitive and have penetrated more than 140 markets around the world.”
Al-Qahtani stressed the council aims to increase the volume of bilateral trade to a more satisfactory figure for both sides.
He said that one of the most promising sectors that both sides will work on through the SRBC is holding exhibitions of Saudi and Russian produce and introducing commodities from both countries.
He pointed out that the Kingdom boasts many efficient Saudi companies across various fields, adding that the Saudi business community looks “forward to more discussions and cooperation with Russian businessmen in a way that benefits both parties.”
The Council of Saudi Chambers submitted a proposal to open a Russian bank in Riyadh in a step aimed at facilitating commercial and economic trade between the two countries, a move which was supported by Russian diplomats.
Ajlan Al-Ajlan, chairman of the Saudi Chambers of Commerce, added that this would be a big step forward in developing further commercial and economic relations between the two countries.
Russian Ambassador Sergey G. Kozlov said his country views the development of trade relations between the two nations as an essential step forward.
In a statement that coincided with the recent meeting of the council, Kozlov noted that King Salman’s “historic” visit to Russia and the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Riyadh paved the way for a strong and strategic partnership.
He said that the appointment of a commercial attaché at the Russian Embassy in Riyadh is a new step in overcoming all economic obstacles facing Saudi businessmen.
The council stressed the need to lay down a roadmap for developing economic cooperation between the two states, focusing on developing trade and investment agreements, opening direct flights, facilitating the issuance of visas and increasing cooperation in targeted sectors, including the agricultural sector.