Riyadh urges Europe to understand its special position on WTO

Published April 22nd, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Saudi Arabia, striving to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), urged Europe Saturday, April 21, to understand its special position of being an Islamic country which implements Sharia, or Islamic law, a statement said. 

 

The call came during a meeting here between Saudi Minister of Commerce Osama Al-Faqih and EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy as part of Riyadh's bilateral negotiations with world countries over its WTO membership. 

 

The minister called on the "need that EU understands the unique conditions of the kingdom ... which is proud of implementing the Sharia, and that of the conservative nature of the Saudi society", a statement by the commerce ministry said. 

 

Europe is Saudi Arabia's first trading partner with the trading volume between the two sides hitting 66 billion riyals ($17.6 billion) last year, Faqih said. 

 

Technical teams from both sides discussed in Riyadh during the past two days a number of issues relating to WTO. 

 

Lamy also met with Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Nuaimi and discussed with him the stability of the world oil market and Saudi membership in the WTO, the official SPA news agency reported. 

 

Last week, Faqih told an investment symposium that Saudi accession to WTO has moved to an advanced stage as the oil-rich country was engaged in intensive bilateral negotiations. 

 

Riyadh has already signed bilateral agreements over WTO with 11 countries, but not with the EU or the United States. 

 

To facilitate its accession to the organization, Saudi Arabia stepped up measures to liberalize its economy in order to attract foreign investors into the kingdom, which is seeking to diversify its sources of income and increase the role of the private sector. — (AFP, Riyadh) 

 

© Agence France Presse 2001

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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