Saudi Arabia’s FDI inflows rise on adoption of international calculation standards

Saudi Arabia’s FDI inflows rise on adoption of international calculation standards
Looking ahead, the Kingdom aims to achieve an FDI inflow target of SR388 billion by 2030, equivalent to 5.7 percent of gross domestic product, while also positioning itself among the 15 largest economies in the world. (SPA)
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Updated 17 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s FDI inflows rise on adoption of international calculation standards

Saudi Arabia’s FDI inflows rise on adoption of international calculation standards
  • FDI inflows in the first 9 months of 2023 reached SR52.9 billion, up from SR49.9 billion in the previous period

RIYADH: Foreign direct investment inflows to Saudi Arabia saw a 6 percent annual rise in the first 9 months of 2023, a new methodology used by the Ministry of Investment has revealed.

Utilizing an updated approach characterized by heightened transparency and governance standards, FDI inflows were shown to have reached SR52.9 billion ($14.11 billion), up from SR49.9 billion in the previous period, as revealed in the ministry’s report.

Notably, these figures exclude an Aramco deal in 2022 worth SR58.1 billion which saw a consortium led by BlackRock Real Assets and Hassana Investment Co. purchase a 49 percent stake in a newly formed gas pipelines subsidiary.

The updated methodology for calculating FDIs aligns with international standards, and was developed to enhance accuracy and comprehensiveness through collaborative efforts by the Ministry of Investment, the General Authority for Statistics, and the Saudi Central Bank, in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund.

This method, according to the Ministry, categorizes FDI based on various criteria such as economic activity, financial instrument, and geographical region. 

It also includes investment income from dividends and interest and evaluates FDI based on companies’ financial statements. The framework of foreign companies is updated annually, considering new establishments and excluding liquidated or merged companies.

FDI assessment is based on market price for listed companies and Own Fund at Book Value for non-listed ones. The calculation includes special purpose entities, capital and individual companies.

In alignment with the objectives outlined in the National Investment Strategy and the Vision 2030 targets, significant legal, economic, and social reforms were implemented to stimulate FDI inflows, aiming to reach SR83 billion by 2023.

This suggests that by the third quarter of 2023, the Kingdom had attained 64 percent of this objective. 




Eastern Province Municipality Mayor Fahad Al-Jubeir emphasized the benefits for investors and entrepreneurs, including extended contract durations, exemption periods, and reduced bank guarantees. (Supplied)

Looking ahead, the Kingdom aims to achieve an FDI inflow target of SR388 billion by 2030, equivalent to 5.7 percent of gross domestic product, while also positioning itself among the 15 largest economies in the world.

The Kingdom’s regional headquarters program has enticed multinational giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon to relocate to Saudi Arabia, alongside firms like Northern Trust, Bechtel, and Pepsico from the US, as well as IHG Hotels & Resorts, PwC, and Deloitte from the UK.

This initiative has not only positioned these companies to qualify for government contracts but has also invigorated Saudi Arabia’s hospitality sector, and solidified its position as a hub for international business.

FDI stock, representing the total accumulated value of foreign investments in Saudi Arabia, also saw a 6 percent increase, reaching SR795 billion.

Additionally, Gross Fixed Capital Formation, measuring the total value of new physical assets like machinery, equipment, buildings, and infrastructure added to the existing stock of fixed assets in the economy, rose by 10 percent to reach SR833.9 billion. Notably, 88 percent of this increase stemmed from the nongovernment sector.

Kingdom’s 2022 FDI performance

According to the Ministry of Investment, global FDI net inflow declined by 12 percent in 2022, amounting to $1.3 trillion based on UN data. Despite this, FDI net inflows into Saudi Arabia surged by 21 percent annually, reaching SR105 billion.

Ministry data further revealed that inflows to the Kingdom also saw a rise of 21 percent, totaling SR123 billion, equivalent to 3 percent of GDP, surpassing the ministry’s 2 percent target. The Eastern Province led with the highest FDI inflow of SR90.7 billion, followed by Riyadh with SR22.4 billion, and then Makkah with SR6.6 billion. 

Eastern Province municipality of Saudi Arabia has unveiled 238 investment opportunities, covering both permanent and temporary ventures across the region, totaling over 20,000 assets across an area exceeding 116 million sq. m.

Mayor Fahad Al-Jubeir has emphasized that this initiative aims to engage the private sector in line with Vision 2030 objectives. Reported by the Saudi Press Agency in January, he highlighted the diverse array of projects, ranging from maritime activities and sports facilities to tourism sites and commercial venues.

Al-Jubeir emphasized the benefits for investors and entrepreneurs, including extended contract durations, exemption periods, and reduced bank guarantees.

In terms of categorization by continents, the ministry noted that inflows from Europe constituted 66 percent of FDIs to the Kingdom, followed by Asia at 11 percent, with Gulf Cooperation Council countries excluded, estimated at 9 percent.

FDI outflows, representing the Kingdom’s investments in foreign countries, increased by 13 percent to SR17 billion during this period. Consequently, the net inflow, reflecting the difference between the two, reached SR105 billion.

The transportation and storage sector received the largest share of inflows at 42 percent, followed by manufacturing at 33 percent. 

FASTFACT

The updated methodology for calculating FDIs aligns with international standards, and was developed to enhance accuracy and comprehensiveness through collaborative efforts by the Ministry of Investment, the General Authority for Statistics, and the Saudi Central Bank, in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund.

The transportation allocation is linked to the 2022 Aramco transaction.

Saudi Arabia’s manufacturing sector has also experienced remarkable growth in recent years, driven by strategic initiatives like Vision 2030. Through the issuance of numerous new manufacturing licenses and investments, the country has bolstered its domestic production capacity, contributing to economic diversification and job creation.

Moreover, FDI stock experienced a 16 percent growth during this period, with manufacturing activity comprising the highest share at 31 percent. Other sectors included transportation and storage at 15 percent, wholesale and retail trade at 13 percent, financial and insurance activities at 11 percent, real estate activities at 8 percent, and construction at 6 percent.

The UAE held the highest FDI stock in 2022 at SR104 billion according to a report by the General Authority of Statistics, followed by Luxembourg with SR103 billion, and the US with SR77 billion.

According to the Ministry of Investment, initiatives introduced under Saudi Vision 2030 have significantly improved FDI in Saudi Arabia, resulting in a 52 percent increase in FDI stock and a 337 percent increase in FDI inflow from 2017 to 2022.


Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum

Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum
Updated 22 April 2024
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Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum

Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum
  • The aim of the gathering is to find solutions to global challenges relating to humanitarian issues, the climate and the economy

RIYADH: Final preparations are taking place this week in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for a special meeting of the World Economic Forum in the city on April 28 and 29.

Heads of state and senior executives from the public and private sectors are expected to be among the participants, who will discuss a range of global economic issues and developments under the theme “Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy for Development.”

The aim of the meeting is to find solutions to a host of global challenges relating to humanitarian issues, the climate and the economy. On the sidelines of the main event, the Kingdom will host exhibitions and other events to highlight the latest developments and trends in areas such as sustainability, innovation and culture.

The selection of Riyadh as host of the special meeting reflects the extensive partnership between Saudi Arabia and the WEF, officials said.

It builds upon the Kingdom’s active participation and contributions to the WEF’s Annual Meetings in Davos.

The agenda is designed to rekindle the spirit of cooperation and collaboration with various panel discussions, workshops, and networking opportunities. It represents a significant gathering of global leaders and experts dedicated to forging a path toward a more resilient, sustainable, and equitable world.


ACWA Power inks deal to drive renewable energy development in Azerbaijan 

ACWA Power inks deal to drive renewable energy development in Azerbaijan 
Updated 22 April 2024
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ACWA Power inks deal to drive renewable energy development in Azerbaijan 

ACWA Power inks deal to drive renewable energy development in Azerbaijan 

RIYADH: Saudi energy giant ACWA Power is signing a new agreement to accelerate the development of renewable projects in Azerbaijan. 

The private water desalination company, known for its extensive green hydrogen storage capacity, announced it has now finalized an agreement with SOCAR, the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic.

This development follows an initial cooperation understanding signed in February 2023.

This deal focuses on the joint evaluation of the “Low-Carbon/Green Fertilizer” project, in which the two bodies will collaborate on assessing the production of green hydrogen to support the decarbonization of SOCAR downstream assets.

Marco Arcelli, CEO of ACWA Power, said in a statement, “I am proud to announce our collaboration with SOCAR to ignite a new era of renewable energy development in Azerbaijan. With our shared vision and commitment to sustainability, this partnership will not only drive innovation but also pave the way for a cleaner and brighter future for this country.”

The primary directive of the agreement will be to enhance SOCAR’s carbamide fertilizer facility, striving toward more value-added low-carbon products.

As part of the project, SOCAR and ACWA Power will conduct feasibility studies to assess the potential production and sale of green fertilizers, aligning with Azerbaijan’s vision of achieving a clean environment.

ACWA Power will take a role in driving the project’s renewable energy and green hydrogen production aspects, bringing their expertise to bear on this initiative.

For his part, Anar Mammadov, vice president of SOCAR, said, “Azerbaijan is committed to building a sustainable future, and our partnership with ACWA Power underscores our shared dedication to driving renewable energy development in the region. Together, we will work towards realizing our vision of a cleaner, greener Azerbaijan.”

He added: “The cooperation with ACWA Power represents a significant step forward in Azerbaijan’s transition towards a low-carbon economy and underscores the commitment of both organizations to sustainable development practices.” 

Preceding this announcement, the two nations posed their intent to collaborate on renewables as Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman met with Azerbaijan’s Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Mukhtar Babayev in March.

During the meeting, the counterparts discussed opportunities for work and cooperation between their two countries in the field of climate change. 

They also talked about joint efforts to achieve the goals of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, the Kingdom’s ministry said in a statement at the time.


Closing Bell: TASI edges down to close at 12,509 points 

Closing Bell: TASI edges down to close at 12,509 points 
Updated 22 April 2024
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Closing Bell: TASI edges down to close at 12,509 points 

Closing Bell: TASI edges down to close at 12,509 points 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index closed at 12,508.93 points on Monday, losing 9.29 points or 0.07 percent. 

The parallel market, Nomu, also shed 343.96 points or 1.28 percent to end the day’s trading at 26,596.22. 

Concurrently, the MSCI Tadawul 30 Index fell 3.95 points or 0.25 percent to finish at 1,567.16. 

The main index posted a trading value of SR8.8 billion ($2.3 billion), with 74 stocks advancing and 148 declining. On the other hand, Nomu reported a trade volume of SR37.7 million. 

Al-Rajhi Company for Cooperative Insurance was the top performer on TASI as its share price surged 9.93 percent to SR126.20. LIVA Insurance Co. followed next with its share price jumping 9.92 percent to close at SR21.50. 

Gulf General Cooperative Insurance Co.  also performed well, climbing 9.16 percent to SR16.44. Raydan Food Co. and Fitaihi Holding Group increased 8.14 and 8.11 percent to SR28.55 and SR4.40, respectively. 

Conversely, Saudi Cable Co. recorded the most significant dip, declining 4.94 percent to SR75. 

Alkhaleej Training and Education Co. and Ash-Sharqiyah Development Co. also experienced setbacks, with their shares dropping to SR31.50 and SR23.40, reflecting declines of 4.83 and 4.10 percent, respectively.

Nomu’s top performer was Dar Almarkabah for Renting Cars Co., which saw a 9.73 percent jump to SR44. Mayar Holding Co. and Alqemam for Computer Systems Co. also recorded notable gains, with their shares closing at SR4.27 and SR89.80, marking an increase of 7.02 and 5.03 percent, respectively. Arabian International Healthcare Holding Co. and Foods Gate Trading Co. also fared well. 

On Nomu, Raoom Trading Co. was the worst performer, declining by 7.28 percent to SR135. Other underperformers included Natural Gas Distribution Co. and National Environmental Recycling Co., whose share prices dropped 5.58 percent and 5.23 percent to SR42.30 and SR12.32, respectively. 

Watani Iron Steel Co. and Future Care Trading Co. declined during the day to settle at SR2.81 and SR8.70, respectively. 


Saudi Aramco in talks to acquire 10% stake in China’s Hengli Petrochemical

Saudi Aramco in talks to acquire 10% stake in China’s Hengli Petrochemical
Updated 22 April 2024
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Saudi Aramco in talks to acquire 10% stake in China’s Hengli Petrochemical

Saudi Aramco in talks to acquire 10% stake in China’s Hengli Petrochemical

RIYADH: Energy giant Saudi Aramco held talks with Chinese Hengli Group Co. to acquire a 10 percent stake in its subsidiary, subject to due diligence and required regulatory clearances.

Aramco and Hengli Petrochemical Co. signed a memorandum of understanding for the proposed deal. The agreement supports the former’s strategy to increase its presence in key downstream markets, enhance its liquids-to-chemicals initiative, and ensure long-term crude oil supply agreements.

Last year, Aramco signed two multibillion-dollar agreements for liquids to chemicals investments in China.

In March 2023, a deal was signed between China’s Norinco Group and Panjin Xincheng Industrial Group to establish a joint venture to build a refinery and petrochemical complex in China’s Liaoning province. The initiative cost stands at approximately $12 billion.

The second agreement, signed in July, is an acquisition of a 10 percent stake in China-based firm Rongsheng Petrochemical Co. for $3.4 billion.

“This MoU supports our efforts to grow our global downstream footprint. We continue to explore new opportunities in important markets as we seek to progress in our liquids-to-chemicals strategy,” Mohammed Al-Qahtani, Aramco’s downstream president, said in a press release.

He continued: “We look forward to forging new partnerships and are excited by the prospect of expanding our presence in the important Chinese market.”

Hengli Petrochemical, a controlled subsidiary of Hengli Group, owns and operates a 400,000-barrel-per-day refinery and integrated chemicals complex in Liaoning province, and several plants and production facilities in Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces.

Speaking at a development forum held in March 2023 in Beijing, Amin Nasser, president and CEO of Aramco, highlighted substantial opportunities for cooperation between Saudi Aramco and Chinese partners in sectors aimed at reducing emissions.

“China has distinct strengths in renewables and critical materials, while Aramco and Saudi Arabia have a clear interest in solar, wind, hydrogen, and electrofuels. These areas have great long-term potential, and combining our strengths could match our ambitions,” he noted.

Saudi Arabia and China are working together to strengthen their already well-established strategic ties.

In September, the Kingdom’s minister of industry and mineral resources held meetings with key Chinese officials in Beijing. Bandar Alkhorayef also toured various companies and factories in different Chinese cities as part of his trip.

He held talks with China’s Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen, during which they discussed ways to boost economic collaboration and trade ties, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The top officials also discussed investment opportunities in several economic sectors, including mining. At the time, the Saudi minister highlighted the Kingdom’s progress in the field of industries and mining.


IsDB leads multilateral development banks group in $300-$400bn lending boost target

IsDB leads multilateral development banks group in $300-$400bn lending boost target
Updated 22 April 2024
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IsDB leads multilateral development banks group in $300-$400bn lending boost target

IsDB leads multilateral development banks group in $300-$400bn lending boost target

RIYADH: A group of elite financial institutions, led by the Islamic Development Bank, is aiming to increase its lending margin by $300-$400 billion over the next decade to reduce global inequalities.

The announcement came after presidents of ten multilateral development banks met in Washington, D.C., to discuss new strategies to strengthen their impact on tackling development issues and improve coordinated efforts in 2024 and beyond.

The MDB Heads Group, of which IsDB currently holds the presidency, is seeking to expand its financing capacity by implementing the G20 Capital Adequacy Frameworks Review report recommendations as well as other initiatives.

A joint statement issued by the group, which includes African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, and World Bank Group, at the conclusion of the meeting read: “Collectively, these efforts on balance sheet optimization and financial innovation are expected to generate additional lending headroom in the order of $300 billion to $400 billion over the next decade, with strong contributions from shareholders and development partners. Related actions … have already created additional lending capacity.”

Among the actions set out to help increase funding include introducing diverse, innovative financial instruments, such as hybrid capital tools and risk transfer methods, to shareholders, development partners, and capital markets.

There will also be efforts to encourage the direction of International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights through the MDBs and to provide greater clarity on callable capital, helping rating agencies better assess its value.

Another area of focus seeks to boost action on climate change by presenting the first common approach for measuring environmental outcomes in terms of adaptation and mitigation, aligning operations with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and providing joint reporting on climate-related finance.

Additionally, the MDBs will engage in the UN-led process toward a new collective climate finance goal.

A third area is strengthening country-level collaboration and co-financing. The MDB heads emphasized enhancing partnership and co-financing and assessing proposals for nation-led and owned platforms to reach a common understanding.

Some MDBs will establish platforms and use one another’s procurement policies to cut transaction costs, boost efficiency, and promote sustainability.

They will also accelerate co-financing for public sector projects through the newly launched co-financing collaboration gateway.

A fourth area focuses on mobilizing the private sector, with MDBs committing to increase the division’s financing for development goals, expand local currency lending, and offer foreign exchange hedging solutions to boost private investment.

The heads agreed to develop the type and classification of statistics issued by MDBs and development finance through the Global Emerging Markets Risk Database Consortium.

Moreover, in a fifth area, MDBs agreed to emphasize impact more through enhanced collaboration in joint impact assessments.

This includes sharing approaches for measuring and monitoring outcomes, maintaining ongoing coordination efforts, and assessing key performance indicators tied to nature and biodiversity.

The statement added that the MDB group “recognize our collective duty to accelerate international efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, reduce inequalities, tackle regional and global challenges including on climate and health, as well as boost inclusive socioeconomic development.”

It continued. “As a group, we reaffirm our determination to deliver on our commitments and continue strengthening our collaboration for the benefit of poor and vulnerable countries, communities, and people.”