Trade minister: French companies committed to increase, diversify investments in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: With direct investment amounting to more than €3.7 billion ($4.37 billion), France is one of the largest investors in Saudi Arabia. Projects relating to the Vision 2030 program to diversify the Saudi economy offer yet more opportunities for strengthening the bilateral partnership. France is keen to share its expertise in such fields as energy, water, transport, new technology, and aerospace.

For Saudi investors, France’s innovation ecosystem and location make it an ideal gateway for trade with the EU. Franck Riester, French minister delegate for foreign trade and economic attractiveness, touched on these issues and more during an exclusive interview with Arab News.

In particular, the minister said French companies are committed to increasing and diversifying their investments in the Saudi economy and have already identified significant opportunities, from renewable energy to healthcare to tourism.

Q. What are the key objectives of your current visit to Saudi Arabia?

A. France and Saudi Arabia have a long history of rich and fruitful cooperation, which we wish to further develop. I first visited the Kingdom in 2019 as minister of culture for the launch of the breathtaking AlUla project, highlighting the exceptional heritage of Saudi Arabia and the partnership with French cultural organizations.

I am here in Riyadh today to develop the economic relationship between France and Saudi Arabia, especially in the framework of the partnership agreed between President Emmanuel Macron and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his official visit to France on April 18, 2018.

Our two countries share the same ambition in key sectors such as the ecological transition and technological revolution. This common ground provides for concrete business opportunities. Together with my counterpart, Khaled Al-Falih, with whom I have had the pleasure to exchange regularly, we aim to give shape to the economic component of this partnership by discussing shared investment opportunities in both countries.

My current visit is another step forward in our enduring and flourishing economic relationship, and I already hope to come back to the Kingdom to fully grasp its beauty and potential.


Q. France is one of the largest investors in Saudi Arabia, with direct investment amounting to more than €3.7 billion. Do you see room for growth as Saudi Arabia diversifies its economy under Vision 2030?

A. French companies are committed to increasing and diversifying their investment in the Saudi economy, in line with the priorities of the Vision 2030 especially in renewable energy, hydrogen, water and environment, healthcare, digital economy, smart cities, and of course tourism services and infrastructure.

French companies are renowned all over the world for their know-how and expertise, which make them ideally suited to meet the high expectations of the Vision 2030 program. That includes the tech sector: I am well aware that the French tech ecosystem is not always well identified in the Middle East. And yet, our striving tech scene is one of the most innovative and dynamic in Europe and in the world, now counting 10 “unicorns” and aiming for 25 by 2022.

Q. At a time when many governments are tightening their belts, Saudi Arabia has launched projects across sectors in recent months totaling trillions of dollars. Do you see big opportunities for French companies?

A. Saudi Arabia has made the right call: The time to invest and prepare for the post-COVID-19 world is now. France is on the same page. We have launched a €100 billion recovery and investment plan to support the long-term economic development of our companies, including the green and digital transitions.

I note that France and Saudi Arabia have made the same choices for the future: Our priorities are aligned. Hence, French companies will find huge investment opportunities in those sectors in the Saudi economy.




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