Deal of the decade: China, Saudi Arabia sign 35 agreements worth $30 billion

Saudi Crown Prince witj Chinese President President Xi Jinping (SPA)

Saudi Crown Prince with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Riyadh (SPA)

RIYADH: Very few visits would have rivalled in significance and success with the official trip made by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia this week.

The Chinese leader traveled to Riyadh for three summits with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Arab League states.

He cemented crucial energy and investment deals and strengthened agreements with the Middle East.

It was the fifth time a Chinese president has been to Saudi Arabia. This one marks the start of a new history-making era.

The headline of Saudi Arabia newspaper Arab News said it all: “Kingdom and China seal deal of the decade.”

A total of 35 investment agreements worth $30 billion were signed during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia, giving a string impetus to the business links between the two countries.

The agreements covered green energy, green hydrogen, photovoltaic energy, information technology, cloud services, transportation, logistics, medical industries, housing and construction factories.

The two sides also signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement, committing to support each other’s core interests, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to defend the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states.

Much of the trade between Saudi Arabia and China was focused on oil. China’s crude imports from Saudi Arabia stood at $43.9 billion in 2021, accounting for 77% of its total goods imports from the kingdom.

China usually gets around 18 percent of its oil from the Kingdom. Trade between the two was worth $87.3 billion in 2021, up 30% from 2020, and Chinese companies have made more than $36 billion in contracting in Saudi Arabia since 2005.

Saudi officials said the Chinese president’s visit reflects the keenness of the two countries to strengthen relations and partnership in all fields.

The agreements were signed as China seeks to shore up its COVID-19-hit economy and the Kingdom continues to diversify its economic and political alliances in line with its Vision 2030.

Saudi Export Development Authority CEO Abdulrahman Al Thukair hailed the strong economic relations between Saudi Arabia and China.

China is one of Saudi Arabia’s main trade partners. Total non-oil exports from the Kingdom to China reached were $9.57 billion in 2021, mainly petrochemicals and minerals.

Cooperation has been steadily expanding. In February 2019, during the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to China, Riyadh and Beijing concluded agreements to establish joint projects covering several sectors including manufacturing, petrochemicals, and pharmaceuticals.

According to Saudi investment minister Khalid Al Falih, Saudi Arabia offers unprecedented investment opportunities in renewable energy, industry, communications, information technology, biotechnology, tourism, building and construction, and others.

He invited Chinese companies and investors to Saudi Arabia and benefit from investment opportunities with rewarding returns.

The Ministry of Investment works with many partners in the public and private sectors in Saudi Arabia to focus on investment opportunities and attract investments to them, he added.

Saudi Arabis also provides a supportive infrastructure and an attractive, stimulating and safe investment environment, based on the special advantages that the Kingdom possesses, to be harnessed to build a more diversified and sustainable economy, he said, quoted by Arab News.

He added that Saudi Arabia, the largest economy and the strongest market in the Middle East, enjoys a strategic geographical location linking three continents, overlooking some of the most important water crossings, energy resources and young human competencies.

Such factors and others have contributed to enhancing the chances of success of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China, he said.

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