Monday, 17 September 2007
By Adel Al-Malki
THE Canadian Commerce Minister will visit the Kingdom during the next two months to discuss ways of enhancing bilateral relations at an economic level.
A focus on investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia is expected during the visit. Additionally, Jeff Blackstone, Commercial Counselor at the Canadian Embassy in Riyadh, said developing co-operation between the private sectors in both countries, especially in the fields of environmental conservation and construction, will be another important issue. Blackstone praised the construction drive which has led to increased investment flows in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia.
Ahmad Sabri, Secretary-General of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce, said Saudi Arabia has seized 40 percent of the investment that is going into the Middle East and that figure is expected to grow in the next few years.
The government recently increased the number of student scholarships to Canada and the two countries hope to strengthen their bilateral trade, which exceeds SR4 billion according to 2004 estimates.
Five months ago a delegation of 40 Saudi businessmen, representing a number of Saudi companies as well as governmental institutions, visited Canada and signed trade contracts.
Trade trends are in the Kingdom's favor since Canada buys $5 billion of oil from here while Canadian companies are involved in economic projects, costing $540 million, in the Kingdom.
"A large number of Canadian companies want to contribute to these projects as well as railway plans in the Kingdom, as Canadian companies are very experienced in rail projects," Blackstone said.