Boris Johnson seeks more Saudi Arabian investment in Britain

Prime Minister also urges net-zero carbon commitment in phone call with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Britain has renewed steps to increase investment from Saudi Arabia after a conversation between Boris Johnson and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Prime Minister called on the kingdom to commit to a carbon net-zero date before the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow next month.

Significant efforts to increase foreign financing will be made at the Global Investment Summit hosted by Queen Elizabeth II and Mr Johnson in London on October 19.

Britain is bringing together the world’s largest financiers in an attempt to increase direct foreign investment post-Brexit.

Among them will be Saudi Arabia, which has strong defence ties with the UK and is regarded a potential major backer alongside other Gulf Co-operation Council states.

During the phone call between Mr Johnson and Crown Prince Mohammed, “the opportunities for further boosting trade and investment between the UK and Saudi Arabia” were discussed, a No 10 Downing Street statement said.

Last week's £300 million ($408.3m) acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club by the Saudi Arabia-backed Public Investment Fund, highlighted the intent to invest in Britain.

A major investment deal between Britain and Saudi Arabia, potentially involving renewable energy, the service sector, education and life sciences, would be regarded as a significant prize for the UK.

There is also a growing optimism for a potential Free Trade Agreement between Britain and the GCC, the Downing Street statement suggested.

The UK is keen to cement an FTA with the region to make up for the drop in trade with the European Union.

“The prime minister also welcomed the recent launch of a consultation on a UK-GCC Free Trade Agreement,” the official statement read. Annual bilateral trade between the UK and the GCC is already worth around £30 billion ($42.2bn).

Saudi Arabia is among the leading G20 countries that Mr Johnson wants to agree to a major commitment to reduce carbon emissions before Cop26.

“The Prime Minister hoped to see a net-zero commitment and an ambitious nationally determined contribution from Saudi Arabia, noting the country’s recent leadership on addressing climate change,” Downing Street said.

The two leaders agreed “to continue working closely together on our shared priorities in the coming weeks”, the statement said.

Updated: October 12th 2021, 5:55 AM