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Saudi Arabia and Slovenia explore trade ties at WEF event

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Trade and economic ties between Saudi Arabia and Slovenia are expected to improve following a meeting between the Kingdoms’ Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Alibrahim and Slovenia’s Minister of Digital Transformation Emilija Stojmenova Duh. 

The ministers held talks on the sidelines of the recent World Economic Forum summit in Tianjin, China. The pair discussed potential areas of cooperation between both countries and analyzed ways to address issues of common interest, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Saudi Arabia and Slovenia already have strong trade ties, with exports from the European country to the Kingdom increasing at an annualized rate of 7.9 percent, from $18.4 million in 1995 to $133 million in 2021, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity trade data platform. 

The Kingdom exported goods worth $352 million to Slovenia in 2021, which included refined petroleum worth $320 million, ethylene polymers worth $9.26 million and propylene polymers worth $3.36 million.  

Goods coming from Slovenia included sawn wood worth $24.3 million and packaged medicaments worth $18.2 million. 

The diplomatic ties have also matured over the years. On June 25, King Salman congratulated Slovenian President Natasa Pirc Musar on her country’s Statehood Day. 

In November 2022, a 50-member delegation from Slovenia visited Saudi Arabia to explore potential investment opportunities in the Kingdom. 

During the visit, representatives of 50 companies from various sectors met with business leaders in the Kingdom at the headquarters of the Federation of Saudi Chambers.

The strengthening of relations with Slovenia is part of a concerted effort by the Saudi government to develop trade ties with countries in Europe.

The Kingdom is keen to highlight its changing economic landscape, but is not simply focusing on the continent’s economic powerhouses, such as Germany, France and the UK.

In June, Saudi Arabia formed a business council with Estonia, a country with which $412 million of trade was completed in 2022. 

The council itself was the culmination of two years of visits and talks between senior figures from the two countries, and was accompanied by the signing of five memorandums of understanding covering trade, technology and entrepreneurship.

Estonia clearly sees Saudi Arabia as a country which it wants to be closely involved with.

In an interview with Arab News in May, Alar Karis, the country’s president, said he wants his country to play a part in the Kingdom’s transformation and development story.

“Saudi Arabia is really developing in that sense and taking a No. 1 position, I would say, in this region. We want to be part of this transformation,” he said.

Karis specifically mentioned how nations of a similar size to Estonia are keen to do business with the Kingdom, adding: “It would be nice if we can come to Saudi Arabia with a business delegation, and really start writing different MoUs and start working, because it’s a region that does interest also small countries like Estonia.”

Another of the smaller European countries keen to boost business ties with the Kingdom is Croatia, with the volume of trade exchanged between the two countries surging 198 percent to reach SR533 million ($142 million) in 2021.

In February, the European nation’s former president Colinda Grabar visited Riyadh, and took her delegation to the headquarters of the Federation of Saudi Chambers.

The meeting saw progress made towards the creation of a joint Saudi-Croatian business council, with the exploration of opportunities in the sectors of renewable energy, transport, and infrastructure, as well as tourism and real estate.

During the meeting, Grabar expressed her country’s desire to sign an economic cooperation agreement with the Kingdom to expand the areas of trade and investment cooperation, while the head of the Federation of Saudi Chambers Hassan bin Mujib Al-Huwaizi stressed that Croatian companies have several investment opportunities in the Kingdom in the sectors targeted in Vision 2030.

The building of ties with smaller nations does not mean the larger European countries have been ignored by Saudi Arabia as it seeks to diversify its economy.

In June, Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef visited both France and Germany to talk up opportunities available in the Kingdom, particularly in the mining sector.

Mining is one of the 13 strategic sectors in Vision 2030, and there is an estimated $1.3 trillion worth of resources to be excavated in the Kingdom.

In Germany, Alkhorayef held talks with Roland Weigert, vice minister in the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy, while during his visit to France he met with leading business figures at the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce in Paris.

Source: Arab News

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