Riyadh – A New Zealand Diplomat confirmed his country’s willingness to boost its political and economic relations with Saudi Arabia to a strategic level.
He revealed that talks were held between New Zealand Associate Trade Minister Todd McClay and his Saudi counterpart Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi on Wednesday in Riyadh.
The diplomat said that the two parties discussed means of boosting economic partnerships, including trade, investment, technology transfer, and other areas in addition to a number of sectors such as agriculture, food security, education, architecture engineering, health care, building materials, telecom, training, and consultancy services.
New Zealand’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Hamish MacMaster told Asharq Al-Awsat that talks between New Zealand’s minister and his counterpart tackled aspects of economic cooperation and New Zealand’s possible role in exploring the opportunities available in the diversification plan of the Saudi economy under Vision 2030.
The ambassador expected 2017 to be a year of economic openness between the two countries in light of mutual desire to deepen joint work and increase investments and trade transfer; especially after the meeting held between the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) and the visiting trade delegation, which ended with launching a joint business council to let economic cooperation reach highest levels, GCC-New Zealand free trade agreement (FTA).
For his part, Acting Chairman of the CSC Board Saleh Al-Afaliq called on the two sides to promote their joint business activities through trade deals that will push forward the bilateral economic ties as trade between the two countries, which is valued at $864 million in 2015, could be expanded further.
To promote business and economic relations, Al-Afaliq proposed a series of measures to remove certain obstacles, including high fees on customs duties, transport and insurance on goods bound for New Zealand.
He added that there was no adequate information available on trade and business opportunities in New Zealand markets.
In his speech, Michael Web, head of New Zealand Business Council for the Middle Eastern Countries (BCMEC), said investment between his country and the Kingdom remains a priority.
He hoped that New Zealand’s business sector will make its own contribution toward the overall success of Vision 2030.