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Saudi leaders gather in Beijing to boost $106bn trade

Khalid Al Falih, Saudi Arabia's investment minister, and Paul Chan Mo-po, Hong Kong's financial secretary, at the FII Priority summit SCMP via Reuters Connect
Khalid Al Falih, Saudi Arabia's investment minister, and Paul Chan Mo-po, Hong Kong's financial secretary, at the FII Priority summit
  • Khalid Al Falih on six-day trip
  • Investment summit on Tuesday
  • Visits to Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai

Saudi Arabia’s investment minister Khalid Al Falih is leading a delegation in Beijing this week as the kingdom looks to tighten ties with its largest trade partner.

Government and private sector leaders will participate in the China-Saudi Investment Conference on Tuesday, as part of Al Falih’s six-day visit.

China-Saudi trade stood at $106 billion in 2022, an increase of about 30 percent from 2021.

About 1,000 people are set to attend the investment conference in Beijing. Agreements are expected to be signed in sectors including clean energy, agriculture, tourism, mining, financial services, logistics and infrastructure, technology and healthcare.

The Saudi delegation will also visit Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Shanghai to explore investment opportunities.

The conference follows the 10th Arab-China Business Conference in June and President Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia last December, which has been described as a “watershed” in bilateral relations by think tank Asia House.

Al Falih is holding a series of meetings with government officials and private sector representatives during his visit.

After talks on Sunday, Wang Wentao, China’s commerce minister, told reporters that Beijing was willing to work with Riyadh to promote its Belt and Road infrastructure programme and Saudi’s Vision 2030.

Wang Wentao, China's commerce minister, held talks with Khalid Al Falih on SundayReuters/Florence Lo
Wang Wentao, China’s commerce minister, held talks with Khalid Al Falih on Sunday

Al Falih also spoke at the Future Investment Initiative Priority conference in Hong Kong on December 7.

Saudi-China trade has nearly doubled since 2010, according to Asia House.

The think tank has also highlighted the growing use of China’s currency, the yuan renminbi, as the GCC pivots to the east. 

It now accounts for 6 percent of global trade, surpassing the euro. China is making progress in persuading Gulf states to accept payment for their oil in yuan.

Freddie Neve, senior Middle East associate at Asia House, said: “There has been a profound acceleration in the Middle East pivot to Asia over the past year and the long-term growth fundamentals for Gulf-Asia trade remain robust.”

Partnerships between Gulf and Asian stock exchanges, as well as growing Gulf sovereign wealth fund interest in Asia, are also shaping the trade landscape, he added.

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