By Arab News
The trade exchange between Saudi Arabia and other countries rose to $358 billion by the end of 2010, Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said yesterday. “Saudi Arabia has become a major investment-friendly country in the world,” he said while addressing the Saudi-Lebanese Economic Forum in Beirut on its opening day.
Al-Rabiah said growing trade and investment exchange between countries has become a major feature of the world economy. “New forms and concepts are appearing on the stage of international trade relations,” he pointed out.
Al-Rabiah underscored the measures taken by the Saudi government to strengthen the national economy. “We have adopted a number of reforms to preserve and stabilize the country’s economic base,” he added.
The minister highlighted the Kingdom’s improving investment climate. “Saudi investment climate has a lot of attractive features. It offers a number of viable investment opportunities. It also offers a number of incentives to investors,” he explained.
“Saudi Arabia has become a leading investment hub, not only in the Arab region but also in the world and it has been classified among countries that attract large-scale investment in the world,” he said.
Al-Rabiah said the Kingdom’s investment strategy was aimed at creating a competitive atmosphere for Saudi industries, enabling them to compete with their counterparts in international market.
“We hope the industrial sector would continue to play an important role in strengthening the Kingdom’s relations with other countries,” he said.
Al-Rabiah expressed his hope that the forum would enable businessmen and women in both countries to make optimum investment of their potentials and set up more joint ventures.
He hoped that the forum would boost commercial, industrial and investment cooperation between the two countries. “The speedy political developments in the region could change its economic and investment activities,” he pointed out.
Earlier, opening the forum, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati highlighted the strong economic, political and social relations between the two countries. “It’s an exemplary relationship,” he told the mammoth gathering attended by more than 500 businessmen and women from both countries.
He commended the Kingdom’s support for Lebanon, especially at times of crises. “The support of the Kingdom and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah helped Lebanon reach safe shores.”
Mikati also said that Saudi Arabia has opened its doors to the Lebanese. “Saudi Arabia is considered the largest source of foreign investment in Lebanon and it’s our major trading partner,” he added.
The prime minister said political and security stability is the basis for the success of his government’s economic plan and vowed to announce more projects.
“Our government has announced and will announce more economic steps to improve the investment environment and attract Arab investments.”
Mikati added: “Our economy preserved growth because we hold onto its freedom,” he said. “The preservation of security and political stability maintains our economic plans.”
He hoped that the Arab Spring would reflect positively on the economy of Arab countries and Lebanon.
Adnan Al-Mubti, president of the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said Saudi investments in Lebanon crossed SR16 billion, accounting for 40 percent of the total Arab investment in the country while trade exchange between the two countries amounted to SR2.97 billion. Lebanon holds 40th position among countries to which Saudi Arabia exports its products. It has the 46th place among countries that export goods to the Kingdom.
Saleh Kamel, chairman of Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), who was present at the opening session, hoped that the Saudi-Lebanese investment would expand from real estate to agriculture and industry.