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Saudi-Russian Business Forum Reviews Economic Relations

   The Saudi-Russian Business Forum, co-organized by the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) and Russian Direct Investment Fund, highlighted investment opportunities for cooperation between the two countries, and ways to increase their strategic partnership and facilitate relevant barriers so as to foster bilateral trade and investment relations in fields including energy, mining, transportation, education, training, infrastructure, technology, and healthcare.

The Forum, which was attended by Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr. Majid Al Qassabi, Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak, Governor of SAGIA Eng. Ibrahim Al Omar, and companies from both sides, discussed areas of joint cooperation and ways to utilize the two countries’ respective capabilities to achieve higher growth and performance. Dr. Al Qassabi pointed to King Salman’s visit to Russia last October, urging to use the momentum it created to foster bilateral relations. He added that the robust relations between the two countries determine seeking opportunities in various fields, particularly non-oil ones, in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 goals.

The Russian Energy Ambassador praised the growing economic relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia, noting the positive impact that King Salman’s visit to Russia had in this regard. He expected for the upcoming period to see more meetings to translate these relations into actual joint ventures. He pointed to nine key sectors, including energy, infrastructure, transportation, education, agriculture, technology, training, solar system, and developing ports and airports. Mr. Novak noted that preparations are currently underway for upcoming visit exchanges and a roadmap to utilize the resources and capabilities of the two countries. He touched on the two countries’ cooperation to stabilize the oil market, which improved prices. Moreover, the Russian Energy Ambassador commended the NEOM project, launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, expressing that Russian companies are interest in the project. 

For his part, CSC Chairperson Eng. Ahmed Al Rajhi stated that the meeting reflects the mutual interest of both sides to foster economic relations, adding that he hopes it will elevate their trade and investment, which remain modest compared to their respective ambitious and capabilities. He noted that Saudi imports from Russia form most of their trade - estimated at more than USD 722 million in 2016. Whereas Saudi exports to Russia for the same year were modest in comparison. He called for more balance in trade and to facilitate the access of Saudi products to the Russian market. 

Al Rajhi encouraged the two sides to take advantage of the favorable conditions in both countries to enter a new era of partnership that focuses on investments and creating joint ventures that transfer Russian technology and expertise to the Kingdom. He pointed to the investment climate in the Saudi market and facilitations it offers to foreign investors, particularly in regards to the Saudi Vision 2030 projects, which the Russian expertise can contribute to in the fields of advanced industries, knowledge economy, education, technical vocation, and human development. The CSC Chairperson reiterated the important role of the Saudi and Russian business communities in fostering economic relations through signing more agreements and implementing the current ones, and increasing activities of the Saudi-Russian Business Council. 

Russian Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Vasily Osmakov, called the Forum an important event to foster industrial relations between the two countries, saying that there are multiple ideas and suggestions that could be turned into projects - thanks to the available resources - especially in railways, aviation, engineering industries, electricity, and renewable energy. In addition to cooperation in building smart cities, airports and ports. He said that the upcoming meetings will include more signed agreements and joint ventures. 
Russian Direct Investment Fund Director, Ilya Bakhturin, stated that the level of cooperation has been elevated following King Salman’s visit to Russia, resulting in signed agreements in energy and infrastructure, among other fields. He said that the Fund supports Russian companies in Saudi Arabia.

The Forum, which coincided with the Saudi-Russian Committee meeting, included an extensive discussion on expanding the scope of investment between the two countries in the upcoming period. A number of presentations were given during the meeting on investment opportunities in Russia, cooperation between the Saudi Public Investment Fund and its Russian counterpart, and the investment environment in Saudi Arabia (presented by SAGIA).

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