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Saudi, British Proposal to Forge Free Trade Agreement, Hopkins | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London – The executive director of the Saudi British Joint Business Council, Chris Innes-Hopkins, said a Saudi-British agreement on free trade would see the light if both countries’ governments agree on its items.

In an interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on Thursday, Hopkins said the Council was encouraging British investments in Saudi Arabia, in particular with the adoption of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

The interview was conducted on the margins of the Saudi British Joint Business Council forum, which was held in London on Wednesday.

The Council’s executive director said that the meeting saw the naissance of several initiatives to launch new investment projects in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

He added that both Saudi Arabia and Britain were witnessing economic restructuring in light of Vision 2030 and Britain’s decision to exit the European Union, commonly known as “Brexit”.

Hopkins noted that both events represent an important opportunity to boost economic cooperation between the two countries. He said that there were already many British businessmen investing in Saudi Arabia, but added that the Council was keen on attracting further investments to take advantage of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Hopkins reiterated Britain’s commitment to promote economic and investment relations with Gulf countries. He quoted British Trade Minister Liam Fox as saying at the forum’s opening session that Britain was ready to share its expertise with Saudi Arabia and take advantage of the Kingdom’s investment opportunities.

Hopkins said that Britain was witnessing a phase in which challenges would be transformed into investment opportunities. He added that serious talks were underway to forge a free trade agreement between Britain and Saudi Arabia (and GCC countries), noting that the concerned governments are yet to approve on the items of the agreement.

Regarding Saudi investments in Britain, Hopkins said that the majority of those were focused on residential and commercial real estates. He added that Britain was encouraging investments in other sectors.

Hopkins also said that with the decline in the value of the British pound, investments in Britain would become more attractive to Gulf investors.