By Arab News
By Mohammed Rasooldeen
Deals worth $11.4 billion between Riyadh and Paris were signed on the sidelines of the 2nd Saudi-French Business Opportunities Forum, which concluded in Riyadh on Tuesday, underscoring the shared foreign policy stances that have helped deepen the two countries’ ties.
Four agreements and a letter of intent between the Kingdom and France was signed in the presence of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls at the Yamamah Palace, while a series of private sector agreements between the French and Saudi companies were signed in the presence of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Laurent Fabius, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir and Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfik Al-Rabiah before the closing session at the Ritz Carlton.
King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) President Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed Al-Saud signed an agreement for a research center with a company dealing with marine systems.
King Fahd Medical City Executive Director Mahmoud Al-Yamani signed a cooperation and training agreement with Charles Gibert, head of the Institute Gustave-Roussy (IGR), a major European anticancer center.
King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy President Waleed Husain Abu Al-Faraj signed a letter of intent with CEO EDF Jean-Bernard Levy.
In a joint communique issued following the forum, it was revealed that the 2nd session of the France-Saudi Arabia Joint Commission responsible for the implementation of the program of action approved during the official visit of the French president to Saudi Arabia on May 4, was later held in Riyadh on Oct. 13, at the invitation of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia, minister of defense and chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs.
This session, held alongside the 2nd Saudi-French Business Opportunities Forum, was co-chaired by Prince Mohammad bin Salman and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. It marked the intense relations of friendship and confidence between the two countries in a great variety of fields, and the shared will to take them even further. It showed a great convergence of views on the main regional issues.
This meeting was co-chaired by Prince Mohammad and Fabius.
On this occasion, the two parties proceeded with an in-depth review of their bilateral relations, with the aim of strengthening them in all areas.
They welcomed the fact that the following agreements had been signed at the Royal Palace in Riyadh following the second session of the Joint Commission:
- The Public Investment Fund has allocated $ 2 billion of investment in French private funds with a focus on renewable energy and SMEs;
- The Saudi Public Investment Fund is in final negotiations to provide $ 3 billion in funding to COFACE for export financing;
- The two parties are in ongoing discussion about other investment opportunities for the Kingdom in France;
- King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE) and the French Atomic and Alternative Energy Commission (CEA) have signed a letter of intent for cooperation in the renewable energy sector;
- A plasma production facility in Saudi Arabia will be established by LFB in Saudi Arabia;
- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has lifted the embargo on French beef;
- A cooperation agreement has been signed between King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and DCNS to establish a naval research center;
- The two parties also made the following decisions:
- Launch of negotiations in view to provide the Kingdom with satellite capabilities of observation and communication;
- Finalization of the negotiations to provide fast patrol boats to the Saudi naval forces with a view to concluding by the end of 2015;
- Establishment of a joint working group on naval projects;
- Increase of cooperation in military exercise and training in Saudi Arabia and France;
- Negotiation of an agreement between the ministries of defense concerning scientific and technical cooperation.
In the field of aviation, the two parties noted the strong relationship between Saudi Arabian Airlines and Airbus group, and expressed satisfaction at the ongoing discussion between Saudia and Airbus to modernize and expand the Saudi national airline fleet through partnership on current and future Airbus programs.
The two parties are in discussion to establish industrial projects between Airbus and Saudi partners in the field of heavy carriers and other aerospace programs with a view to enhancing the Saudi industrial base in the aerospace field.
Furthermore, the parties welcomed the decision to launch negotiations with Alstom for the ‘rolling stock’ and ‘system’ lots for the Makkah Metro.
They welcomed the development of the reception of Saudi students and doctors with the removal of the cap on the bilateral medical grants program.
Lastly, they intend to facilitate the issuance of visas between the two countries for players working on strengthening their economic ties. They also welcomed the ratification of the agreement on the diplomatic visa exemption.
The two countries reaffirm their support for an ambitious, equitable and successful outcome of the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) in December 2015.
The agreement should aim to be in line with keeping the likely increase in global average temperature below 2°C from pre-industrial levels, taking into account the need to ensure sustainable development for all, and recognizing the importance of both mitigation and adaptation.
In pursuance of this, the agreement should promote the long-term transition of all countries toward low greenhouse gas emitting development, in a manner that is comprehensive, cost effective, diversified and resilient in the face of the expected impacts of climate change.
Finally, the two parties adopted an ambitious working program for the upcoming Joint Commission sessions, which will contribute to strengthening their ties.
In his concluding remarks at the close of the forum, Fabius said that the SMEs will be given a new boost after the forum for the betterment of the two nations.
“There is a strong need to have this forum once in six months to accelerate the successful implementation of the decisions taken at the forum,” Fabius said, indicating that that he was pleased with the economic diplomacy practiced by the two countries to promote bilateral interests.
He added that Saudi Arabia’s economic policy is diversified and it is interested in relying on modern technology.