RIYADH: In a bid to further boost trade ties with China, Saudi Arabia announced the revival of the Silk Route on the sidelines of a key business event that began in Riyadh on Sunday.
Speaking at the conference, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the Kingdom can serve as China’s gateway to the Arab world as the world’s second-largest economy seeks to elevate trade ties with the region.
The Kingdom represents 25 percent of the $432 billion trade between China and Arab countries in 2022.
Commenting on the revival of the Silk Route, the minister said the initiative aligns with Saudi Arabia’s future vision that seeks to diversify its economy and use modern technology to elevate the skills of its youth.
The volume of trade between Saudi Arabia and China hit $106 billion in 2022, registering a 30 percent increase over 2021.
Al-Falih said the relationship between the Kingdom and China has grown “exponentially” in the past few decades. “Now, we are committed to working as a bridge that will link the Arab world to China,” he said during the Arab-China Business Conference.
The minister added: “China plays a leadership role in advanced technology and innovation. We, in the Arab world, have the determination, human and monetary capital to support this field.”
Speaking at the event, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said Chinese companies have huge investment opportunities in Arab nations, while countries in the region can make use of China’s technical expertise to build a better future.
“Chinese technologies and competencies will enable us to build our futures and our economies for the next generations,” he added.
Pointing out that the total trade between Arab countries and China grew 31 percent last year in comparison to 2021, Prince Faisal said the second-largest Asian nation is the biggest trade partner for Arab countries.
The foreign minister added that events like the Arab-China Business Conference will further elevate the trade relationship between both regions.
“Our gathering today is an opportunity for working to enhance the Arab-Chinese historical relationship, and to build a mutual joint future for a new era that will bring good to all of our people, keeping the peace and development in the world,” Prince Faisal said on the first day of the event.
He further noted that the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Riyadh in 2022 played a crucial role in strengthening the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the world’s second-largest economy.
“The successful visit of Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, to Riyadh in 2022 increased the depth of the relationship between the countries in all sectors and fields; political, economic, investment as well as commercial,” added Prince Faisal.
Hu Chunhua, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, agreed that the trade exchange between Arab nations and China increased when the world witnessed several global economic challenges.
“This is the 10th round of the Belt and the Road Initiative. The Arab countries are natural partners of this initiative because of their geographical location,” said Chunhua.
Widely considered a centerpiece of Xi’s foreign policy, the BRI is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in more than 150 countries and international organizations.
The 10th Arab-China Business Conference is organized by Saudi Arabia’s investment and foreign ministries in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Arab League, the Chinese Council for the Promotion of International Trade, and the Union of Arab Chambers.
The two-day business gathering is expected to attract over 2,000 participants. It will also have as many as 20 panel discussions where top CEOs, business owners, investors, and government officials will share their views to strengthen trade ties between the region and China.