New cooperation accords mark Saudi-French business forum

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Easing administrative and government procedures for French investors wishing to do business in Saudi Arabia and vice versa was one of the main recommendations to come out of the second Saudi-French Business Opportunities Forum, which concluded in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The two-day event kicked off with speeches by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, and ended with the signing of numerous cooperation agreements in the presence of the latter as well as Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius.
The list of recommendations read out at the forum’s final session was the result of numerous plenary sessions, roundtable discussions and meetings involving officials, businessmen, experts and academics from both countries.
The delegates also recommended that arrangements should be made to cut red tape for investors from both countries and to set up government-run facilitation offices to ease procedures for businessmen.

Following were among the other recommendations:
Encourage initiatives to localize the manufacture of spare parts in the railway industry, in addition to the operation and maintenance of rail and public transport businesses. This would be achieved by attracting French investors in collaboration with the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).
l Establish an electronic portal to highlight commercial as well as industrial opportunities available in the two countries and provide all economic information and statistics.
l Encourage mergers and strategic alliances between different sized companies in both countries in order to gain competitive advantages.
l Develop a bilateral partnership in the field of information communications technology to create smart cities and electronic knowledge parks.
l Conduct a two-year business forum in both countries. This forum should be implemented jointly by both countries’ ministries of commerce and industry and national authorities for exports development.
l Encourage higher education grants as well as scientific research cooperation programs between France and Saudi Arabia.
Establish a website to promote the spread of education in French and Arabic. Universities in both countries are being encouraged to execute such an initiative.
l Establish an e-libraries network to exchange scientific knowledge and research.
l Apply advanced technology in the medical field, including state-of-the-art communication systems and robotic surgical equipment.
The Ministry of Health and Saudi Health Council could play a coordinating role, while French institutions are being encouraged to implement such initiatives.
l Create a unified electronic database of medical files for patients in Saudi Arabia, to be administered by the Ministry of Health. French institutions are being encouraged to help execute this initiative.
l Create an e-health initiative to provide medical and social services to the needy as well as raise public health awareness in Saudi Arabia.

French institutions could help implement such initiatives.
The first Saudi-French Business Opportunities Forum was held in Paris in April 2013. It was organized by the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Council of Saudi Chambers and the Saudi-French Business Council.

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