Major trade deals expected during Saudi Deputy Crown Prince's visit to France

Published June 28th, 2016 - 07:00 GMT
France is Saudi Arabia's third largest trading partner. (AFP/Stephane de Sakutin)
France is Saudi Arabia's third largest trading partner. (AFP/Stephane de Sakutin)

Saudi Arabia and France are expected to sign major trade agreements in housing, defense, energy, health care, agriculture, transport, research, sports, media, environment and tourism during the current visit of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

This is according to French sources quoted by a local publication on Monday, which said the pacts would be concluded during a meeting of the Saudi-French Joint Committee, which first met in June last year in Paris. That meeting was chaired jointly by Prince Mohammed and France’s foreign affairs minister. The second meeting was held in October of the same year.

There are more than 80 French companies in the Kingdom providing jobs for more than 27,000 citizens. French ambassador to the Kingdom, Bertrand Bzansno, said that trade has increased significantly between the two countries. French exports to the Kingdom rose from 2014 to 2015 by 6 percent, to reach 3.1 billion euros. 

He said Saudi exports to France had been affected by a decline in oil prices and is currently at 5.3 billion euros, adding that Paris is the third-largest investor in the Kingdom. He said a major housing agreement is likely to be signed.

The prince’s first official visit to Paris in June last year for the inaugural Saudi-French joint committee followed a summit meeting in Riyadh between French President Francois Hollande and Gulf leaders including Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.

During meetings with French politicians, including Prime Minister Manuel Valls, the two sides will look at “new perspectives of cooperation in the framework of the National Transformation Program”, the French Embassy said in an earlier statement. “Major regional issues will also be touched upon.”

Prince Mohammed is also expected to meet with French business leaders. On a visit to Riyadh in October, Valls announced agreements, some that were still to be finalized, worth 10 billion euros ($11 billion) in a range of sectors.


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