Saudi Arabia, Thailand trade ties on upward trajectory, says Thai official

Over 100 manufacturers and entrepreneurs from Thailand are showcasing a wide range of products from different sectors at a four-day trade show that began in Riyadh on Sunday. AN photo by Huda Bashatah
Over 100 manufacturers and entrepreneurs from Thailand are showcasing a wide range of products from different sectors at a four-day trade show that began in Riyadh on Sunday. AN photo by Huda Bashatah
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Updated 29 August 2023
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Saudi Arabia, Thailand trade ties on upward trajectory, says Thai official

Saudi Arabia, Thailand trade ties on upward trajectory, says Thai official

RIYADH: Amid growing collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Thailand in different sectors the volume of trade in agricultural products between the two countries is projected to hit SR1 billion ($266.5 million) in the next three to five years, predicted a Thai official.
The volume of agriculture trade between Riyadh and Bangkok was recorded at SR740 million in 2022. Talking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Thai Trade Exhibition Saudi Arabia 2023 that is currently underway in Riyadh, Prayoon Inskul, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation of Thailand, said trade is likely to grow across various sectors, especially in fisheries and livestock.




Prayoon Inskul, permanent secretary of the Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation of Thailand. AN photo by Huda Bashatah

Describing Saudi Arabia as the “center of the GCC region,” Inkul said it is the hub of trade and distribution of products to other countries in the region.

Riyadh and Bangkok have managed to forge a robust economic alliance, which is underpinned by several factors including shared economic interests and a commitment to leveraging each other’s strengths.

Thai Ambassador Darm Boomtham told Arab News that his country also had a strong petrochemical industry with extensive experience in downstream products.

“We have more than 30 years of experience” in this field, he said. “We can also learn more from Saudi Arabia because the Kingdom is a champion” in this sector, the envoy added.

The four-day trade show in Riyadh seeks to boost trade ties between the two countries. Over 100 manufacturers and entrepreneurs from the country are showcasing a wide range of products from different sectors such as food and beverage, fashion, health, beauty, jewelry, medical services, and spas.

The event has drawn the participation of entrepreneurs, professionals, and companies who are enthusiastic about capitalizing on potential business prospects and establishing collaborative partnerships.

Boomtham said by organizing such events we aim to encourage the business community from both countries to explore investment opportunities. He told Arab News that the Thai authorities had organized three pre-business forums since 2022 to motivate the business communities of the two nations.




Thai Ambassador Darm Boomtham. AN photo by Huda Bashatah
 

The first day of the trade exhibition featured a roundtable discussion on halal products, which was organized by Thailand’s Halal Science Center, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, and the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization, also known as SASO.

“The (Thailand’s) Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has also been strengthening technical cooperation with the relevant Saudi agencies, especially on halal standards and measures, and factors on production such as fertilizers,” Inskul told Arab News.

“The ministry also has plans to introduce alternative protein products, including rice varieties for health benefits to correspond with Saudi Arabia’s NEOM policy which aims to reform the process of production, distribution, and consumption of products, which includes encouraging the consumption of novel foods,” he added.

The Thai ambassador said Thailand’s Halal Science Center is playing a vital role in the development of halal industry in the Southeast Asian country due to its huge potential.

Last November, Thai authorities put forth a bilateral collaboration proposal aimed at bolstering the relationship between their country and the Kingdom. This initiative coincided with a significant investment delegation from Riyadh visiting Bangkok.

In June, a senior Thai official announced that Thai enterprises are prepared to commit a collective investment of $36 million in Saudi Arabia.

This announcement was made by Sanan Angubolkul, the chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, during a session of the Saudi-Thai Business Forum held in Riyadh.

Angubolkul said that a total of eight Thai companies are actively considering investments amounting to the mentioned sum within Saudi Arabia.

He also underlined his nation’s willingness to collaborate closely with the Kingdom in sectors such as energy and crude oil storage.


WTO’s Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi to address decentralization of global supply chains

WTO’s Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi to address decentralization of global supply chains
Updated 6 sec ago
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WTO’s Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi to address decentralization of global supply chains

WTO’s Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi to address decentralization of global supply chains

RIYADH: Abu Dhabi is set to host the World Trade Organization’s Ministerial Conference focused on reshaping global trade dynamics, according to the intergovernmental body’s director general.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala highlighted in an interview with the Emirates News Agency from Geneva the importance of this discussion slated to take place from Feb. 26 to 29.

She said that this gathering will see talks on various topics, such as decentralizing global supply chains, fostering a more inclusive international trade landscape, and ensuring the participation of marginalized communities in multinational development efforts.

Okonjo-Iweala stressed that many private-sector investors currently adopt the “China+1” model, where they diversify supply chains beyond the Asian economic giant to countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, or India.

“We have no problems with that. But we are saying there is also China plus Morocco, China plus Brazil, China plus Senegal, China plus Bangladesh. So, there are many countries that are ripe for investment,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

The focus on decentralization aims to encourage investors to reshape global supply chains and drive employment opportunities. Okonjo-Iweala underlined that for the world to enhance resilience, the private sector must invest in developing countries with conducive investment environments.

She highlighted the multifaceted benefits of such investments, stating: “You can help deal with the resilience of supply chains. You can help deal with inequality by investing in developing countries. You can help create jobs.”

Reflecting on the significance of the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference being hosted in Abu Dhabi, Okonjo-Iweala expressed gratitude to the UAE for its commitment to multilateralism and global solidarity. 

She added that collaboration with the Emirati authorities in organizing a meeting that will bring together more than 7,000 people in Abu Dhabi has been highly positive.

MC13’s agenda includes pioneering discussions on various contemporary issues ranging from trade and environment to climate change, sustainability, and inclusion. 

Okonjo-Iweala stressed the importance of addressing the challenges faced by marginalized populations and integrating developing countries, especially women and small enterprises, into the global supply chain.

Additionally, MC13 will celebrate the accession of new WTO members – Timor-Leste and Comoros – for the first time in eight years. Discussions will also revolve around reforms in the dispute settlement system and negotiations on digital trade, fisheries subsidies, and more.

As the world navigates complex economic and environmental challenges, MC13 stands as a platform for fostering dialogue, cooperation, and inclusive trade policies to drive sustainable global development.


Saudi Fund for Development set to enhance Tunisia’s railway network with loan

Saudi Fund for Development set to enhance Tunisia’s railway network with loan
Updated 16 min 32 sec ago
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Saudi Fund for Development set to enhance Tunisia’s railway network with loan

Saudi Fund for Development set to enhance Tunisia’s railway network with loan

RIYADH: Tunisia’s railway network is set to improve as the Saudi Fund for Development is expected to finalize a loan agreement during its visit to the African country’s capital.

The development came as Sultan Al-Marshad, CEO of SFD, and Saudi delegates initiated their Tunisia visit on Feb. 21, focusing on discussions to enhance development collaboration between the two sides. 

SFD’s visit to the country aims to finalize a development loan agreement for the renovation and development of the phosphate transport railway, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

Welcomed by Tunisian Prime Minister Ahmed Al-Hachani, Al-Marshad engaged in talks to strengthen cooperation, and support social and economic growth in various Tunisian regions.  

During his visit, the CEO also participated in a housing unit handover ceremony in Zaghouan governorate. 

SFD has been extending financial aid and development loans to Tunisia since 1975. 

In July 2023, Saudi Arabia granted $400 million as a soft loan and $100 million as a grant to bolster Tunisia’s economy.  

Established in 1974, SFD has funded over 800 development projects valued at $20 billion across more than 100 countries globally. 

In December 2023, during the Tunisian-Saudi Joint Commission held in Tunis, Finance Minister Sihem Boughdiri Nemsia said that her country is ready to consolidate constructive cooperation with the Kingdom to achieve the development goals of both nations.  

During the same event, Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef noted that the Kingdom wishes to become an active partner in Tunisia’s economic activities.  

“Given that Tunisia enjoys important mineral resources such as iron, copper, lead, and a significant phosphate reserve, we hope to explore more investment opportunities in these areas and obtain operational concessions in Tunisia,” said Alkhorayef, as reported by the Tunisian News Agency, Tunis Afrique Presse. 

 

During the December visit, Alkhorayef engaged in meetings with Tunisian officials, including Minister of Trade and Export Development Kalthoum ben Rejeb. The discussions focused on exploring avenues to boost Saudi non-oil exports to Tunisia. 

 

He also met with Tunisia’s Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources, and Fisheries, Abdelmonem Belati, to discuss plans for formalizing a memorandum of understanding in the field of water resources. 


PIF to acquire stake in Saudi construction giant Binladin Group – reports

PIF to acquire stake in Saudi construction giant Binladin Group – reports
Updated 47 min 3 sec ago
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PIF to acquire stake in Saudi construction giant Binladin Group – reports

PIF to acquire stake in Saudi construction giant Binladin Group – reports

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is set to take a 36 percent stake in the Kingdom’s construction giant Binladin Group, according to Bloomberg.

While PIF did not offer an official response to the report, Bloomberg said the fund is “working with Morgan Stanley on a potential deal to buy into Saudi Binladin Group,” citing people with knowledge of the matter.

“The PIF, as the $700 billion wealth fund is known, is considering acquiring part or all of the 36 percent stake owned by the ministry of finance, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private,” reported Bloomberg.

It added that the sovereign wealth fund is looking to local firms to build the infrastructure needed to host showcase events such as the World Expo.

Spokespeople for Morgan Stanley and PIF declined to comment. Representatives for Binladin couldn’t be reached for comment, according to the outlet.

The Kingdom’s fund is helping Saudi Arabia boost its transition from oil and overseeing several giga-projects such as NEOM.

Bloomberg said PIF spent $1.3 billion last year to acquire stakes in four local construction companies to bolster the Kingdom’s domestic construction industry.

In a press statement, PIF revealed earlier this month that it had acquired a 40 percent stake in the Zamil Offshore Co., one of the largest Saudi-based offshore support vessel operators. 

According to the wealth fund, this transaction is a part of the fund’s wider strategy to contribute to the development of the Kingdom’s energy base.

In January, PIF increased its stake in Japan-based video game firm Koei Tecmo to 6.60 percent from 5.56 percent. 

Similarly, in February 2023, PIF raised its stake in Nintendo Co. to 8.26 percent from 7.08 percent, making it the largest outside investor in the Japanese gaming company. 

Last month, the fund also acquired a 23.8 percent stake in Middle East Paper Co., one of the leading manufacturers specializing in producing and recycling paper products in the region.


Pakistan is aiming to increase trade with Saudi Arabia to $20bn: minister

Pakistan is aiming to increase trade with Saudi Arabia to $20bn: minister
Updated 22 February 2024
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Pakistan is aiming to increase trade with Saudi Arabia to $20bn: minister

Pakistan is aiming to increase trade with Saudi Arabia to $20bn: minister

RIYADH: Pakistan is aiming to increase its trade capacity with Saudi Arabia to $20 billion through enhancing business conditions, according to a top official.

The Saudi-Pakistani Business Forum kicked off in Riyadh on Feb. 22 under the patronage of Minister of Commerce Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, organized by the Federation of Saudi Chambers, according to the Kingdom’s official press agency.

During the event, Pakistan’s Minister of Commerce Gohar Ejaz highlighted the role of the Free Trade Agreement between the Gulf Corporation Council countries and his nation in opening up opportunities for investors from both regions. 

He expressed his ambition to increase trade volume to $20 billion by improving the business environment between the two countries and encouraging the private sector, especially since Pakistan represents a significant market and opportunity for Saudi investors.

Chairman of the Federation of Saudi Chambers Hassan Al-Huwaizi noted the leaps in trade exchange between the Kingdom and Pakistan, which reached $5.7 billion, adding that Pakistan now ranks 20th in the list of Saudi trading partners, with broader prospects for partnership and Pakistani investors in Vision 2030 projects.

Ejaz pointed out that the agreement provides protection and guarantees for Saudi and Gulf investments, explaining that the forum comes within Pakistan’s interest in developing its relations with the Kingdom and benefiting from Vision 2030 projects.

The minister of commerce emphasized in a speech, conveyed by Acting Deputy Governor of the Foreign Trade Authority’s Deputyship of Private Sector Affairs and Global Presence Fawaz bin Rafaah, the significant role played by the private sectors of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in developing the volume of trade exchange, as reported by the Saudi Press Agency.

Fahd Al-Bash, president of the Saudi-Pakistani Business Council, revealed several initiatives and projects the council is working on in cooperation with investors from both countries. 

These include launching a portal for rice importers from Pakistan, establishing a technology center in Riyadh, a halal meat center in Makkah, as well as a market for Pakistani products in the Kingdom and joint petrochemical industries to meet the needs of the market.

Forum participants discussed the opportunities and initiatives provided by Vision 2030 for Pakistani investors, as well as the investment options available to Saudi businessmen in Pakistan across various targeted economic sectors.

During the forum, the ministry of investment screened a presentation titled “Invest in Saudi Arabia,” covering the financial environment and opportunities in the Kingdom. 

The Agricultural Development Fund also presented its services and efforts in agricultural sector development. 

Additionally, the Saudi Export-Import Bank showcased its efforts and services in developing Saudi exports and serving exporters, while the Pakistani Investment Council reviewed the investment opportunities available in Pakistan.


Saudi Arabia and China explore investment opportunities in civil aviation 

Saudi Arabia and China explore investment opportunities in civil aviation 
Updated 14 min 19 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia and China explore investment opportunities in civil aviation 

Saudi Arabia and China explore investment opportunities in civil aviation 

RIYADH: Economic cooperation in Saudi-China civil aviation is set to strengthen, with top officials meeting in Beijing to discuss investment opportunities and technology transfer for industry advancements.    

This comes as a high-level delegation, led by Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, president of the Kingdom’s General Authority of Civil Aviation, began a visit to the Asian country, convening a joint round table meeting to explore cooperation in connectivity and discuss partnership aspects across various areas.   

Furthermore, both nations discussed the exploration of innovative solutions in aviation, including sustainable fuels, advanced air mobility, and traffic management systems.    

They expressed interest in integrating artificial intelligence and digital technologies to enhance the aviation experience and operational efficiency.   

Additionally, the Saudi delegation emphasized substantial investments in the sector and reiterated the Kingdom’s openness to further opportunities.    

This aligns with GACA’s goal of modernizing the airport system and supports the Kingdom’s tourism sector target of attracting 150 million visitors by 2030.  

Al-Duailej highlighted the Kingdom’s success in initiating substantial investments in airline and airport infrastructure, such as the establishment of Riyadh Air as a new national carrier.  

He also emphasized the launch of the master plan for King Salman International Airport in Riyadh, alongside several other strategic investments in the sector’s infrastructure.  

The GACA president also underscored that, in line with the National Aviation Strategy, Saudi Arabia aims to enhance air connectivity to 250 destinations, serving 330 million passengers, and to double air cargo capacity to 4.5 million tons by 2030. 

Al-Duailej concluded the meeting by highlighting the upcoming Saudi Airport Exhibition scheduled to take place in Riyadh later this year. 

He elaborated that the two-day event will assess the ongoing growth of the sector in the presence of global leaders in the aviation industry. 

Consequently, the president urged Chinese firms to explore investment opportunities in the Kingdom and join the country’s efforts to reshape the future of global aviation. 

The overarching goal of the 11-day tour, which also includes visits to Singapore and the US, is to enhance travel options, promote tourism, and facilitate cultural and commercial exchange between the countries.