Saudi Arabia Review 2017

Strategic tie-up

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic), a manufacturing company involved in chemicals and more, signed an agreement with Chinese state-owned Sinopec Group for new joint projects and potentially increased investment in an existing joint venture. Speaking at the China Development Forum in Beijing, Sabic CEO Yousef Abdullah Al-Benyan explained that deal.

"I think it does not really represent a shift (in how Saudi businesses approach China), but it brings it to the next level of strategic collaborations between — you know Saudi Arabia and China — and specifically Sabic and Sinopec," he said.

One of the key components of the deal, he explained, is a desire to expand the two firms’ technological and innovative collaborations. Benyan called that dimension "very important" because of Chinese politicians’ desire to "move from low product productions to mid- and high-end through technology innovations."

"I think we would like to capture that to be part of this growth in China," he said. "And at the same time, Sinopec has also found Sabic is a very good gateway to go into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in terms of investment and opportunity."

Benyan said that now is a good time for Chinese companies to be looking at investing in Saudi Arabia because of his government’s "Saudi Vision 2030" plan to diversify its economy.

"They have been very clear that they want to improve the business environments in Saudi Arabia. They want to open up for serious business to come, they are changing their regulations, they are bringing more incentive programmes, they have been more strong on governance and transparency," he said.

"And I think this will attract a lot of people to take an opportunity, to take this really 2030 vision and really grow with it as well."In fact, Benyan said he "would not be surprised" if Chinese investors became involved in other Saudi businesses.

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