Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy, is planning to expand financial ties with the UK as part of a bilateral push to deepen trade and economic relations.
The kingdom has authorised Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan to discuss the draft of a preliminary agreement with the UK Treasury to “enhance co-operation in the areas of developing financial and public financial services”, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said in a Cabinet statement on Tuesday.
The Ministry of Finance was directed to get the approved pact signed and “complete the legal procedures” thereafter, according to SPA.
Since its exit from the EU at the end of 2020, Britain has sought to forge deeper economic ties with the six-member GCC economic bloc. Britain already has close strategic and defence ties with the Gulf states and wants to boost its trade with the GCC, which reached £30 billion ($40.54bn) in 2020.
The two sides signalled they were “setting the stage for a new era” for economic ties after a meeting of foreign ministers in December in the UK.
Substantive talks on a free-trade agreement are expected to begin this year, it was announced after the meeting with Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss at Chevening House in Kent, who described the agreement as a “win-win for all parties”.
A trade agreement with the bloc might be concluded by the end of 2022, but given the number of countries involved, London has not ruled out striking bilateral deals, in particular with close allies such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.