Saudi Arabia has a big role to play in French trade
France counts for Saudi Arabia's tenth importer and eleventh with exports (File/AFP)
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Saudi Arabia is one of the top countries in the region witnessing a “revolutionary era” in the advancement, transparency, and efficiency of its e-government services, said Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) Gov.
Abdullatif Al-Othman on Tuesday. Al-Othman was addressing the 34th meeting of the Saudi-French Business Council held in Paris to coincide with the visit of Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, to France.
“SAGIA is constantly working on the improvement of our value proposition to investors. The average transaction duration for new licenses at SAGIA is 16 days and 1 day for renewals — and through our fast track it is 5 days with only three required documents,” Al-Othman said. “
"Moreover, the average time for industrial land handover ranges between one month to two months, and we are continually improving the visa process, which now avails business visitor visas within 48 hours. And yet we are still working together as governmental entities on utterly abolishing time and inefficiency as barriers for businesses,” he added.
Commending the services of the French Embassy in Riyadh, the Saudi Embassy in Paris, MEDF and Saudi-French Business Council, Al-Othman said they have been playing an effective role in advancing the mutual investments between the two countries.
Therefore, he added that France counts as our 10th importer, and the 11th in our exports, and the first in investment in Europe third in investment internationally.
“This visit is even a more special one; it perfectly coincides with the official visit of our Crown Prince Salman who is not only honoring the invitation of President Francois Hollande, but also arrived carrying his keen interest to further advance the relationships between the two countries,” he added.
The Saudi economy enjoys a unique and a remarkable standing in both the regional and international scenes, for it has been witnessing its longest sustained growth and tangible development on all levels during the past years.
The Kingdom is globally recognized for its continuous success in implementing sound policies and regulations that led to its sustained economic growth as it is G20’s third fastest growing economy. Over the past decade, the Saudi economy saw a growth rate in the average of 6.5 percent annually.
Total investment is 21 percent of GDP, 52 percent of which is by the private sector. The average annual capital expenditure in the Kingdom is approximately $67 billion, while the Saudi GDP (gross domestic product), which tripled over a decade only, is $745 billion.
This led to the Saudi economy being ranked as the 19th internationally according to World Bank, as well as to its improved standing in the international rankings.
“Our country is considered to be among the most robust economies offering unique investment opportunities for those who have the strategic insight and the long-term view in mind. Besides the fact that the Kingdom enjoys a prime location in the Middle East for it provides access to 300 million consumers, it has been witnessing a number of multi-billion projects in various fields that are aimed at rapidly developing the infrastructure,” he added.
“On an average, there is about $60-$70 billion of capital expenditure annually, and announced projects today are about $440 billion projects — something that is important to be taken into account when the topic is the development of Saudi Arabia,” Al-Othman said.
The Saudi government, he said, is currently encouraging a broader participation from all sectors toward its main goal; a sustainable economic development. The far-sighted leadership of the Kingdom is pursuing intensive reforms to position it as one of the world’s most competitive economies; certainly, this vision has paved the way for further economic diversification, and the expansion of an active private sector.
Only in a short period of time, the economic landscape of the Kingdom has seen a significant transformation that is ongoing; during the last ten years, the average rate of growth of the nonoil sector grew by an annual average of 7.8 percent that is around four times higher than the average recorded in the past two decades.
“The government and the private sector have both worked together, hand in hand, to make available many investment opportunities in different sectors. Saudi Arabia is, as a matter of fact, growing in all sectors; the classic energy and service sector, the downstream chemical and other sectors that are deemed of high significance in the Kingdom nowadays, such as health care and life science sector, information technology, transportation and logistics, as well as building materials and engineering and consulting markets.
All are witnessing significant growth,” Al-Othman added. Addressing the French businessmen, he said: “French investors are always welcome to grow and succeed in their second home, Saudi Arabia. France has always been a friend of Saudi Arabia, and we believe friendship is the bond that leads to better understanding that can only lead to better business. In Saudi Arabia, we have been traditionally open to look abroad for inspiration, trade, and collaboration; therefore, we are always aspiring to enter into new frontiers of joint cooperation with France."
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