Kingdom and France eye multibillion riyal deals at Riyadh talks


A plethora of bilateral agreements between the Kingdom and France worth billions of riyals will be signed in Riyadh during the 2nd Saudi-French Business Opportunities Forum, which will be held in Riyadh on Tuesday.
The forum is set to take off at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh on Monday with the opening speeches made by Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who will be leading a large French delegation to the Kingdom.
An official from the French embassy here said the forum will also witness the signing of a series of economic agreements between the two countries. The diplomat said the agreements are yet to be finalized. Hence, he cannot tell the nature of the accords. However, he added that there will be several agreements to be inked during the event.
The two-day event will also be attended by a high-powered French delegation comprising Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Laurent Fabius, Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Ledrian and Minister of Economy and Industry Emmanuel Macron.
Besides these key officials, representatives from more than 100 French companies will also attend the much anticipated event.
The welcome speech will be delivered by Mohamed Binladin, president of the Saudi-French Business Council.
The two-day forum’s events will include five working sessions accompanied by a number of meetings and discussions.
Among the most prominent speakers at the Forum are Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq Al-Rabiah and Minister of Economy and Planning Adel Faqeih; and from the French side, Fabius and Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Derian, in addition to heads of French economic institutions and companies, and political and cultural figures.
The first edition of this forum was held in Paris in April 2013 and attracted more than 650 business and official participants.

In conjunction with this event, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Fabius will lead the second session of the joint implementation committee on economic cooperation.
The Competition Council of the Kingdom will also participate in the forum with a large pavilion to highlight its functions and services in ensuring fair competition.
The participation of the Competition Council, one of the regulators in the business sector, is aimed at maintaining the investment environment, and encourage the presence of foreign investments in the presence of laws and trade regulations to protect these investments, and the most important one is the competitive system.
The Competition Council is an independent legal body which seeks to promote and encourage fair competition, and anti-monopolistic practices that affect the legitimate competition to achieve economic policy pursued by the Kingdom to promote a competitive climate in the business sector.
The economic ties between the Kingdom and France have been strengthened in the recent past. The bilateral trade between the two countries reached, for the first time, 10 billion euros in 2014. This figure doubled over the last five years and increased by seven percent during the past year.
French exports to the Kingdom amounted to around 1.5 billion euros in the first half of 2015.
The Kingdom is the largest oil supplier to France, and there are now about 80 French companies currently operating in Saudi Arabia. The volume of French investments in Saudi Arabia is more than SR74 billion across 207 projects, including joint ventures.


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