In 2009,Australia's merchandise exports to Saudi Arabia totaled A$1,724 million,making Australia's 17th largest market
Bob Hawke during his meeting with Saudi businessmen in Riyadh on Saturday
The Saudi businessmen, left, and members of the Australian trade team are holding trade talks at the headquarters of the Saudi Council of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Riyadh on Saturday. (SPA)
The Kingdom is a strategically important country in the region suitable for promoting mutual commercial interests because of its vibrant economic stability, former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke said during a meeting with Saudi businessmen in Riyadh on Saturday.
Hawke, who is currently heading a 15-member trade delegation to the Saudi capital, made the comments on behalf of his team during an opening speech at the Saudi Council of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI).
Abdullah Almobty, board member and president of the Abha Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also delivered an inaugural speech at the Saudi-Australian business talks. The gathering was also addressed by SCCCI Secretary General Fahd Al-Sultan.
Hawke explained that the Australian economy is characterized by its agricultural products and mineral sectors. "You have the capital to invest and we have the capacity and know-how toimplement the projects," Hawke said, adding that this combination would strengthen the existing bilateral trade between the two countries.
As Australia's second largest market in the Middle East, the Kingdom is an important trading partner for Australia. In 2009, Australia's merchandise exports to Saudi Arabia totaled A$1,724 million, making it Australia's 17th largest market.
Saudi Arabia was Australia's biggest market for exports of passenger motor vehicles worth A$811 million in 2009. Other major exports were barley, meat products excluding beef, and live animals. In 2009, Saudi Arabia was also Australia's third largest Middle Eastern market for live sheep, importing over 576,000 heads valued at A$55 million.
On May 4, 2005, a memorandum of understanding on the Trade in Live Animals was signed by the Australian agriculture minister together with his Saudi counterpart. The MoU outlined conditions for the trade and includes assurances that livestock (sheep, cattle, goats) will be treated in line with international animal welfare standards. On March 21 2009, Agriculture Minister Tony Burke and his Saudi counterpart signed a joint declaration amending the 2005 MoU to provide further details on the livestock trade.
Hawke and his team members called on Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman and had a detailed discussion with Minister of Commerce and Industry Zainal Alireza on Saturday. The Australian team, which also visited Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, is here on its final leg of its Gulf tour. It will visit Jeddah on Sunday to hold talks with local businessmen in the Western province.
Walton said that his delegation is looking for a variety of areas in different sectors. "We are interested in the food and the agricultural industries, real estates, communications, engineering constructions and consultancy services." He said that his country has rich expertise in infrastructure developments. He added that Australia could offer its consultancy services for infrastructure developments in the Kingdom, which is estimated to be $190 billion for the coming years.
Touching on the Kingdom's vibrant economy, Almobty said the Kingdom is one of the 25 largest economies in the world and is the largest in the MENA region. "It has 20 commercial banks functioning with a capital of SR1.2 trillion and there are 97 investment companies too," Almobty said, adding that there are more than 140 listed companies in the Saudi Stock Exchangewhose current investments have reached SR1.2 trillion. "There is a need for more financing in oil and gas and infrastructure developments in roads, rails and water."
Al-Sultan said that SCCCI is a stable business society that oversees and coordinates the activities of Saudi establishments in the Kingdom. "SCCCI is the parent body which has 27 affiliated chambers of commerce and industry throughout the Kingdom. The largest chamber is the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, while the smallest is the one at Al-Ras with 227 members.