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Top Saudi Arabia Business NewsFrom the Local Press


France keen to invest in manufacturing sector
Jeddah 20th May 2001

  Looking for partnership and investment in the manufacturing sector is a multisectoral French trade mission, which had a meeting with officials of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday.

JCCI Chairman Ismail A. Abudawood chaired the meeting, which discussed a wide range of subjects aimed at boosting bilateral trade and examining the prospects for increased joint ventures.

“Each of the delegation’s 30 members representing 20 companies has some project to offer. They are encouraged by the recent changes in investment regulations and increased oil prices that have triggered intense business activity, especially in the last 12 to 18 months,” Patrice Douce, delegation leader and co-chairman of Saudi French Business Dialogue at the Paris-based French Business Confederation (MEDEF International), told a press conference after the meeting.

“A number of French companies are adapting to the new global economic order, which is highly competitive. The delegation’s visit to this part of the world is timely as it represents interests in water technology, power supply, ecology and waste treatment. The Kingdom has become the most important for us in the Gulf because its potential is vast and its population rapidly increasing,” said Douce, who was accompanied by Michel Habib-Deloncle, former minister and president of the Paris-based French-Arab Chamber of Commerce. Also present were French Ambassador Bernard Poletti, Consul General Alain Azouaou, Herve Piquet, economic and commercial counselor at the French Embassy in Riyadh, and Rene Cochard, commercial counselor at the French Consulate General.

“Our interest lies in helping the Kingdom manufacture products so that it can reduce imports and open up job avenues. This is possible through partnership and investment. Our companies represent a wide field of activity including food, health care, pharmaceutical, home equipment, road building, sewage disposal and hotels. We’ve even bankers exploring this huge market...,” Douce said.

Referring to the inclusion of TotalFinaElf in the eight international firms selected for the Saudi gas initiative, Douce said: “The French international giant is the world’s fourth in oil and gas highly equipped with gas technology, so we’re highly pleased with its choice. In fact, Total worked on major projects in the Kingdom before its merger last year.”

During the discussion, JCCI officials told the visitors about the new Umrah regulations and the opening up of the tourism sector. “Your tourists can now come here like Japanese and others who have already started visiting,” one of them said.

Saudi Arabia is a major trading partner for France in the Middle East as well as the rest of the world. The bilateral trade volume, which has remained in the Kingdom’s favor, has regularly grown during the last four years. It is characterized by a high structural deficit for France (4.11 billion French francs in 1999) due to the high level of French imports of oil and oil products. Due to the weakening of the European currency against the dollar, and the sharp increase of oil prices, “this structural deficit should increase in the current year,” according to French officials. The mission left for Riyadh later yesterday.

Source: Arab News©
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20 May 2001 06:39:12 PM

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