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Saudi Arabia’s 2nd Global Artificial Intelligence Summit focuses on humanity’s challenges

Growing Saudi American trade relations will boost opportunities in Kingdom: US business leader

RIYADH: A top American business leader has praised the reforms taking place in Saudi Arabia that would help attract more investment to the Kingdom.

Steve Lutes, vice president for Middle East affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, said the country was heading in the right direction in terms of the changes being made.

The official, currently on a visit to Riyadh, met with senior Saudi government figures, including Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir, to discuss ongoing policy regulatory matters including engagement with commercial business communities, the development of data protection laws, and investment issues.

Vision 2030 was also the subject of talks around sustainability, climate solutions, green technology, healthcare, artificial intelligence, food security, emerging digital economies, and other key areas. 

Lutes told Arab News: “The Kingdom’s going in the right direction, it’s making the reforms and is taking the steps necessary to enable more investment and attract more businesses.

“The Kingdom has positioned itself as a leader in energy transition, and I think US companies are witnessing that and want to be a part of that — and we want to help.”

He lauded the growing infrastructure developments in the country and positive approach toward new and emerging creative and economic sectors.

“As the chamber, we will really look forward to partnering with Saudi Arabia to help build out that area,” he said.

Lutes has visited Saudi Arabia on numerous occasions, his most recent trip taking place in January 2020, prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the interim, the chamber has had multiple meetings in Washington, D.C. with leading Saudi officials, including Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha, and a delegation joined by Minister of Commerce and Media Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi.

“It was important for us to come out to Riyadh, and both refresh some of our long-standing relationships, and then look to establish some new ones, and think creatively about what we are going to do as the US Chamber with our partners here in the Kingdom to grow the bilateral economic relationship,” Lutes added.

Vision 2030 aims to promote Saudi domestic businesses and entrepreneurs, with small- and medium-sized enterprises making up 80 percent of most industries, and the balance between local industrialization and enhancing US Saudi trade relations could prove beneficial to local economies.

Lutes said: “When US companies come and set up business here, or grow what they are already doing, they don’t bring a huge US footprint of employees. What they are looking to do is hire locally.”

With work opportunities expanding through the establishment of foreign companies in the Kingdom, the development of existing local talent was expected to continue as firms offered training services, opportunities for career growth, and broadening investment horizons.

“I think there is already a robust consultation really working hand-in-hand with the government and the private sector, but that can always be improved,” Lutes added.

After the economic lows of 2020 brought about by the pandemic, the two countries have bounced back with their trade relationship, reaching a SR92.5 billion ($24.6 billion) trade volume last year. That represented an increase of 22 percent from 2020, with exports increasing from SR33.7 billion in that year to SR50.7 billion in 2021.

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