A report by the Saudi-French Business Council at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) shows that Saudi-French relations have been growing steadily, thanks to the support of both countries’ governments. The report highlights achievements of the joint council during its previous session (2013-2015) along with the events it organized (around 34 events).
The report reveals 13 initiatives that were developed by the Saudi-French Business Council that present a roadmap to Saudi-French trade and economic relations. These initiatives include: creating an online portal for trade and industrial opportunities for bilateral investments; encouraging mergers, coalitions and acquisitions between Saudi and French companies; activating bilateral M2M partnerships; creating an office to facilitate procedures for businesspeople and investors in both countries; localizing industries of consumables, spare parts, operations, and maintenance pertaining to railways and public transportation; organizing a forum every two years; encouraging studies, scholarships, scientific cooperation and research programs between universities; creating a tutorial website for the official languages of both countries; creating a joint network to exchange knowledge, sciences, and research; adopting advanced technology in the medical sector; creating e-healthcare for health and social services; activating the role of embassies in both countries through their commercial attaché in highlighting investment and trade opportunities; facilitating procedures and contracts; and facilitating obtaining a Schengen visa for Saudi nationals from the French Embassy in Riyadh.
Additionally, the report touches on the institutionalized approach of the joint council in activating bilateral trade and investment relations, which entails focusing on top priority sectors on their economic cooperation agenda, thus, focusing on enhancing cooperation in water, electricity, energy, healthcare, education, training, renewable energy, and financial sector projects. In addition to supporting the access of Saudi products to France, transferring French technology into the Kingdom, enabling the joint council’s members to participate in events based in France, and ensuring sector-specific Saudi delegations visits to different French cities.
The joint council’s report emphasizes the role that French companies in Saudi Arabia play in hiring Saudi youths as there are over 80 French companies in the Saudi market, specializing in different sectors, with no less than 27.000 employees. These companies achieve a high level of Saudization, which reflects France’s keenness on aligning with Saudi Arabia’s plans to localize jobs, develop and train skills, and diversify industries and national economy. The Saudi-French Business Council contributes to these efforts by supporting and adopting a proposal to create a website that highlights job opportunities at these companies.
Chairperson of the Saudi side of the joint council, Dr. Mohammed Bin Laden, noted the firm economic relations joining the two countries, assuring that during its previous session, the joint council undertook significant responsibilities to assist in this regard by creating partnerships in infrastructure projects and SMEs; increasing exports; facilitating access of Saudi products to French markets; and transferring advanced French technologies into the Kingdom, which will lead to creating more job opportunities for Saudi youths and prepare them for the marketplace.
Bin Laden commended the support of the Saudi government to the joint council, along with efforts made by the Saudi and French Embassies, MEDEF International, and members of the joint councils in helping it achieve its goals.
Chairperson of the Saudi-French Business Council, Dr. Bin Laden, Vice Chairperson, Eng. Fayez Al Alweet, and Regional Director, Mr. Bassem Al Hebshi, have all played a significant role in pushing forward the Saudi-French trade relations.
It is worth noting that trade between Saudi Arabia and France exceeded 10 billion Euros in 2015. Saudi Arabia is the main oil exporter to France, whereas France is the 3rd largest foreign investor in the Kingdom, with investments estimated at over USD 15 billion.