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Russian-Saudi Economic Council meeting

October 14, 2019, Riyadh

During his state visit to Saudi Arabia, Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud attended the first meeting of the Russian-Saudi Economic Council.

The President emphasised that he considers Saudi Arabia to be one of Russia’s leading economic partners, and believes that the Russian-Saudi Economic Council offers a great opportunity for a direct dialogue between business representatives of both countries.

The President noted successful bilateral cooperation in energy, industry, transport, banking, digital technology and space exploration.

In addition, Vladimir Putin considers cooperation in agriculture to be important. He said agreements on expanding distribution of Russian agricultural products to Saudi Arabia have already been reached.

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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Your Highness, colleagues and friends,

I am happy to welcome the participants of the first meeting of the Russian-Saudi Economic Council.

Key ministers from the economic bloc and representatives of the largest Russian and Saudi companies that make a real contribution to building bilateral trade and investment cooperation have gathered in this hall.

No doubt, all of you are united by your interest in further strengthening business ties and implementing new mutually beneficial joint projects.

I would like to note that in the past few years relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia have been developing dynamically in many areas, primarily, trade and the economy. Last year trade increased by 15 percent and grew by another 38 percent in the January-July period. On the whole, Saudi Arabia has become Russia’s leading partner in the Arab world.

This is why I consider the forming of the Russian-Saudi Economic Council useful and timely and a venue in which the business circles of both countries can conduct a direct and regular dialogue.

During today’s constructive, businesslike talks with the King of Saudi Arabia and the Crown Prince we agreed to do all we could to encourage business initiatives aimed at expanding trade. We will set this goal before the joint Inter-Governmental Commission.

Russian industry-specific missions are regularly established in the Kingdom with support from the Intergovernmental Commission. These missions are designed to promote our products in the Saudi market and attract investment. We consider this a valuable practice and will certainly continue with it.

Obviously, I am bound to mention the high level of the partnership between the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. I would like to point out the Crown Prince’s indisputable role in this cooperation, as he was one of the initiators.

I would like to emphasise that this cooperation is mutually beneficial, as it means attracting investment in Russia and a lot of interest in transactions for our investors.

We have substantial opportunities to boost Russian-Saudi cooperation in various fields, such as industry, transport, banking, infrastructure, digital technology and space exploration. Today we witnessed the signing of related documents in nearly all of these areas.

Certainly, there are good prospects in the power industry. Gazprom Neft and Saudi Aramco are prepared to launch a pilot project to use artificial intelligence in geological surveys. We are contemplating setting up a Russian-Saudi energy cooperation institute based at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Rosatom is prepared to render assistance in building a nuclear power plant in the Kingdom with its unique experience and advanced technology and based on the highest security standards.

Agriculture is another important cooperation area. Russian barley exports to Saudi Arabia have grown dramatically in recent years. We have agreements to increase the volume and expand the range of the Russian food stuffs exported to the Kingdom.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we hold a leading position in the world in terms of grain exports, and are first in wheat in the world.

I would like to note that our companies have high hopes for Saudi Arabia in terms of implementing the Vision 2030 long-term programme of social and economic reforms which imply the extensive involvement of leading foreign investors and trade organisations in the Kingdom. We hope that Russian businesses will also be able to take full advantage of these emerging opportunities.

In conclusion, I would like to wish great success to the Economic Council and all the participants in this meeting. I expect you to focus on the specific result, which is the further promotion of Russian-Saudi trade and investment cooperation.

Thank you for your time.

October 14, 2019, Riyadh