A "one-stop shop" for foreign investment is up and running in the Saudi trading hub of Jeddah, as part of the kingdom's drive to diversify sources of revenue, the investment authority's chief said.
Prince Abdullah bin Faisal Turki, said the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority started taking applications for foreign investment licenses on June 4th.
"It is more than a one-stop shop for registration of companies. It will also develop policies and procedures," the governor told a meeting of the German Business Circle in Jeddah.
"This is an interesting time, an exciting period of change. The aim is to open up and to make procedures speedy and transparent," the prince said.
He said the authority would make its recommendations to the decision-making Supreme Economic Council and that the issue of what form of foreign investment is to be ruled out was still under discussion.
Wholly foreign-owned companies can in future apply to the Saudi Industrial Development Fund for loans, while 25 percent local participation was required in the past to qualify, he said.
Prince Abdullah confirmed the maximum rate of taxation on companies had been lowered to 30 percent, down from 45 percent, but added that the 10-year tax holiday for new start-ups had been scrapped.
Saudi Arabia has since last year announced a package of legal reforms to encourage foreign investment.
The reforms will allow foreign investors to own property and amend the system of local sponsorship for foreigners doing business in Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter.
The kingdom also launched a privatization program in 1997 in an effort to cut red tape and allow the public sector to grow independently of a government whose investment capacity relies on fluctuating oil prices - RIYADH (AFP)
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