Saudi Arabia and China sign deals worth $25bn to boost economic ties

More than 60 agreements reached, covering sectors such as energy, agriculture, tourism, mining and financial services

BEIJING, CHINA - MAY 27: A general view of the skyline of the central business district at sunset on May 27, 2020 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Sheng Peng/VCG via Getty Images)
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Saudi Arabia and China signed agreements worth more than $25 billion at an investment conference in Beijing on Tuesday to strengthen their economic ties.

The China-Saudi Investment Conference came after Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al Falih’s six-day visit to the Asian country.

During the conference, the kingdom signed more than 60 agreements with the world’s second-largest economy in various key sectors such as energy, agriculture, tourism, mining, financial services, logistics, infrastructure, technology and healthcare.

Industry-leading Saudi companies such as Aramco, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic), and Acwa Power attended the conference, which covered areas such as cleaner energy, investment and financing, mining and minerals, tourism, agriculture, digital economy, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing and special economic zones.

In the information and communications technology field, an agreement worth $8.5 billion was signed between Saudi E-Sports Federation and VSPO, a Chinese start-up, to promote new opportunities in e-sports.

Riyadh-based conglomerate Ajlan and Bros Holding Group Company joined forces with Oriental Energy Company to explore areas of collaboration in the manufacturing sector worth $7.5 billion.

A $2 billion energy agreement was signed between Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia and China’s CRRC Group to develop renewable energy and sustainable mobility opportunities worth $2 billion in the kingdom.

China is the largest importer of oil from Saudi Arabia, buying about 1.75 million barrels of oil per day in 2022.

The kingdom, which has been diversifying its economy away from oil, is looking to deepen trade and economic ties with partners around the world.

The China-Saudi Investment Conference followed the 10th Arab-China Business Conference in June and builds on the momentum generated during the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the kingdom in December last year.

The conference also saw nine new regional headquarter licences handed over to Chinese companies including Huawei, Dahua, China Railway Construction Corporation, China Comservice, China Harbour Engineering Company, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, BGI, Nuctech and iMile.

The regional headquarters programme, an initiative by the Ministry of Investment and the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, aims to attract multinational companies by offering a range of benefits and premium support services, including a recently announced 30-year tax break.

The programme has licensed more than 200 companies since 2021.

Saudi Arabia is aiming to boost foreign direct investment as part of its Vision 2030 agenda to diversify its economy away from oil.

The kingdom hopes to have 480 global companies establish headquarters in the kingdom by 2030 amid efforts to boost economic output.

Mr Al Falih, who led a Saudi delegation to China, also visited various cities including Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong as part of this visit.

Updated: December 12, 2023, 4:40 PM