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Saudi Arabia and China sign 30 agreements worth $10bn

Saudi investment minister Khalid Al Falih told the conference he expects a GCC-China free trade deal to be finalised soon SPA
Saudi investment minister Khalid Al Falih told the conference he expects a GCC-China free trade deal to be finalised soon

Saudi Arabia and China signed 30 investment agreements worth over $10 billion (SAR37.5 billion) on the first day of the Arab-China Business Conference in Riyadh.

Deals were made in sectors including technology, renewables, agriculture, real estate, minerals, supply chains, tourism and healthcare.

One of the largest was a $5.6 billion agreement between the Saudi investment ministry and Human Horizons, a Chinese electric car maker, to collaborate on developing, manufacturing and selling vehicles.

More than 3,500 business leaders attended the two-day conference.

China’s outward foreign direct investment has increased by 20 percent each year over the past decade. The Arab world accounts for about $23 billion of the total, said investment minister Khalid Al Falih.

“There is, however, potential to increase investment flows in the other direction, to take advantage of China’s large and prosperous market,” he said, adding that FDI volume in China in 2021 stood at some $3.6 trillion.

Prince Abdulaziz, Saudi’s energy’s minister, told the conference that the kingdom wants to collaborate with China, not compete. He added that he “ignored” Western suspicions over their growing ties, Reuters reported.

“Oil demand in China is still growing, so of course, we have to capture some of that demand,” the energy minister said.

Negotiations for a free trade deal between China and the GCC began in 2004.

Al Falih said any agreement needs to protect emerging Gulf industries as the region diversifies towards non-oil economic sectors.

“We need to enable and empower our industries to export, so we hope all countries that negotiate with us for free trade deals know we need to protect our new, emerging industries,” Al Falih said.

He added that he expects the free trade deal to be finalised soon.

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