Kingdom’s new foreign investment law and establishment of General
Investment Authority, which offers many facilities for investors, were
in focus at a seminar here yesterday.
Commerce Minister Osama Faqeeh
gave the keynote address at the seminar on “business opportunities
in Malaysia” hosted by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz
spoke about the favorable economic situation in Malaysia for Saudi
The ministers noted that
although existing coordination between the two countries in regional
and global forums was an example of constructive cooperation, only two
joint ventures with a capital of SR3 million had been set up between
the two sides in the Kingdom until last year.
Faqeeh noted that the current
level of bilateral trade was still modest and in no way commensurate
with abundant potentials and opportunities at the disposal of both
sides. As such, the business community in the two countries should
intensify efforts to promote and diversify mutual trade. “They must
show greater interest in availing themselves of the various trade
financing programs, export credit and investment guarantee facilities
that are made available by the Islamic Development Bank,” he said.
Faqeeh noted that bilateral
relations had been exemplified within the framework of the
Organization of Islamic Conference and its specialized agencies.
“Such close cooperation gave
a greater momentum to the adoption of recommendations and decisions
reflecting the common concern of the Muslim nations and their
determination to defend their interests,” he said.
“This level of cooperation
has also been manifested in the World Trade Organization, where
Malaysia was in the forefront of countries which concluded bilateral
market access agreements with the Kingdom on goods and services, thus
facilitating the progress of the Kingdom’s accession to the world
body,” Faqeeh said.
“We earnestly hope that such
consultation and coordination will be further strengthened in these
forums with a view to ensuring real benefits to our countries from
trade liberalization and opportunities for market access created by
the multilateral trading system,” he added.
“Over the last few years,
the Saudi economy has proved its solid foundation. It has demonstrated
its resilience, buoyancy as well as its ability to adjust and expand.
In the year 2000 our GDP was about SR522 billion, recording a real
positive growth rate of 8.4 percent,” the minister said.
Aziz said her country had
always been supportive of the Kingdom’s early accession to the WTO
and hoped that the Kingdom’s membership would further provide a
stable and predictable trading environment as well as potential to
further increase bilateral trade.
“Bilateral trade could be
further increased in terms of volume and range of products. Our
products are competitively priced and meet the standards of world
markets,” she said.
Aziz, who is leading a
43-member trade and investment mission, called for more Saudi
investment in her country. Her address was followed by a video film on
“Investment in Malaysia” and a question-answer session. Mission
members had one-to-one meetings with local businessmen.