RIYADH: Russia is willing to import and procure good technologies and expertise from its partners, the deputy minister of industry and trade of the Russian Federation said on Monday.
Alexey Gruzdev spoke to Arab News on the sidelines of a high-profile forum that began in Riyadh aimed at identifying investment opportunities to boost economic ties between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Made in Russia + Innoprom is a two-day event consolidating both nations’ commitment to mutually beneficial partnerships and sustained growth.
Stressing the importance of imports to his country, Gruzdev urged Russian companies to explore the vast opportunities Saudi Arabia has to offer.
“Russian companies should come here (Saudi Arabia) to investigate and understand the experiences and capabilities of the local producers and also to see the materials, components, and services that can be imported from Saudi Arabia to Russia,” Gruzdev said.
Replying to Arab News question about measures Russia took to address the trade imbalance with Saudi Arabia, Gruzdev said: “The reason we came here is to look into this great turnover and find a way to improve.”
He added: “It might sound strange that as a producing country, we also talk about imports, but this is the model of modern Russia; we are not only able to supply to the world, but we are also ready to import and procure good technologies and expertise from our partners.”
Gruzdev further explained that the country is now implementing an import substitution strategy to replace suppliers who try to impose sanctions on Russia with products and services from friendly countries.
He said: “This kind of substitution means that we welcome goods from Saudi Arabia to Russia.”
The minister said that Russia can significantly benefit from Saudi imports in a wide range of economic sectors.
“A big part is machinery,” Gruzdev added, “we can also benefit a lot from biotechnology, chemicals, components, and raw materials … there is a wide selection of interest.”
Gruzdev stated that Saudi businesses could benefit from Russia’s large mining, pharmaceuticals, technology, and aviation industries.
“I would also suggest Saudi companies (to) invest in Russian startups and innovative companies in information technology, cybersecurity, and renewable energy,” he added.
The event highlighted the immense opportunities in the digital economy and advanced technologies, emphasizing the necessity of collaboration in these burgeoning fields. The infrastructure has sector also emerged as a promising avenue for joint ventures.
On the first day of the event, Saudi Deputy Minister of Investment Badr Al-Badr stressed the importance of Saudi-Russia trade relations. He said Russia is the 14th largest exporter to the Kingdom.
“The trajectory of Saudi exports to Russia has not followed the same path; Saudi exports to Russia between 2017 and 2022 have grown only by about 30 percent,” Al-Badr said.
He added: “In 2022, the value of the Saudi export to Russia was only 2 percent of the value of imports from Russia. This is clearly a major opportunistic area for us.”
The Saudi deputy minister also underscored crucial sectors such as energy, technology, and infrastructure, underlining their significant potential for bilateral cooperation.
Another key focus was the pivotal role of the energy and mining sectors, with Saudi Arabia being the leading global oil exporter and Russia being a major oil and gas powerhouse.
These initiatives reflect the joint resolve of Saudi Arabia and Russia to boost economic ties, setting a new growth trajectory in the post-pandemic era.