French President Jacques Chirac stated that it was time to boost economic cooperation between Saudi Arabia and France while visiting Riyadh this week.
Chirac suggested greater cooperation in the fields of aviation, defense, energy and oil sectors.
“It’s time for raising the economic relations to the excellent political relations," Chirac said at the Saudi-French gathering attended by top Saudi and French government personnel and business executives, according to Arab News.
"French companies have made a name for themselves for their inventiveness. Our two countries could strengthen their ties in the field of aviation and defense. In the field of energy we hope to enhance our partnership through the expertise of Total, while the French Center for Oil is at your disposal,” Chirac added.
France has expressed its interest in the sale of Rafale fighters and a border monitoring system according to recent press reports.
Meanwhile, a deal with French aerospace group Dassault Aviation is reportedly worth some $7.2 billion, while defense manufacturer Thales will reportedlt close a $8.4 billion deal for its Miksa electronic monitoring system.
Chirac also paid tribute to the Kingdom’s leadership under Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and said the long-standing relations between the two countries were based on mutual trust.
He also praised economic reforms initiated by King Abdullah in the Kingdom, saying that promoting moderation in the Middle East significantly empowered Saudi Arabia.
Bilateral trade increased from SR1.13 billion in 1998 to SR1.82 billion in 2004, according to president of the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Abdulrahman Al Rashed.
“The joint investment between the two countries has not come up to its potential as it does not exceed SR4.01 billion, which represents only three percent of the total overseas of investment in the Kingdom,” Rashed added.
Meanwhile, French Minister of Commerce Christine Lagarde, announced that she would lead a delegation of companies to the Saudi Arabia next month as part of a trade mission to promote business cooperation.