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Saudi Investment Minister in China To Discuss Infrastructure Plans

Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih traveled to Beijing and met Dec. 10 with China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and Minister of Information and Technology Jin Zhuan Long to discuss “jointly promot[ing] China’s Belt and Road Infrastructure Investment Program,” Reuters reported Dec. 10

The Dec. 11 Saudi newspaper Arab News reports that, during the meetings, “the officials also tackled the potential of expanding cooperation in energy, resources, infrastructure and technology.” (At least as of May 2019, Arab News was owned by Prince Turki bin Salman Al Saud, the brother of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud.) Arab News reported that the meetings “align with how bilateral trade and investment have grown significantly between both sides in recent years.” Trade between the two countries was worth more than $106 billion in 2022, a 30% rise from the previous year, according to Saudi government figures. That compares to $55 billion in U.S.-Saudi trade.

Saudi Arabia is attempting to diversify its economy from solely energy production via its Vision 2030 plan. Saudi Prime Minister Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is trying to move his country away from many decades of merely collecting oil revenues. The Vision 2030 is a mixed bag: it has plans to “upgrade” Saudi Arabia’s financial sector and tourism through private enterprise, but it also has plans for infrastructure, industrialization, and mining. Saudi Arabia has significant money sitting in state investment funds, and it knows that China is the best nation by far to meet its industrialization and infrastructure vision.

On Dec. 12, China will host a “China-Saudi Investment Conference,” to be attended by Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih and 700 guests, including senior Chinese officials, CEOs of Chinese businesses, and entrepreneurs. Aside from BRICS conferences and meetings, the trip of al-Falih and the deals and agreements that ensue represent the fortifying concrete steps by which the BRICS and Belt and Road process grows.

On Dec. 10, Saudi Arabia’s National Debt Management Center secured a syndicated loan of $11 billion as part of the Saudi Kingdom’s medium-term debt strategy, aimed at diversifying the Kingdom’s funding sources, and supporting economic growth by funding the development and infrastructure projects aligned with Saudi Vision 2030.

On January 1, 2024 Saudi Arabia will become a member of the BRICS.