Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat-There were increasing Saudi calls on Wednesday to benefit from the distinguished relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom to push forward some dossiers that have not been completed until now and that would be conducive to fostering economic, trade, and investment relations between the two countries.
The recommendations adopted by the fourth meeting of the Saudi-British club, “The Dialogue of the Two Kingdoms”, stressed the necessity of following up economic developments in the two countries and promoting formulas to push them forward economically, especially in the domains of investments and trade, particularly in view of the current crisis and economic conditions.
Participants at the sessions asked the foreign ministers of the two countries to intervene as a matter of urgency in order to extend the validity of business visas and provide for multiple reentries for more than five years.
They pointed out the importance of accelerating talks on a protection agreement which they said they hoped would be completed by next summer at the latest. The participants called in their recommendations for pushing forward the dossier of the trade agreement between the Arab Gulf bloc and the United Kingdom, urging both parties to conclude pending dossiers so that the understanding should take advantage in an advanced way from the distinguished relationship between Saudi Arabia and the UK and contribute to pushing this agreement forward.
At a discussion at the end of the conference, the participants reviewed a number of subjects including the need to finance and support trade and joint projects and to encourage resort by the sides to special advantages available, as well as facilitating investments for investors and highlighting the pressing need for governmental support in view of the current circumstances that represent an emergency and provide an incentive for such encouragement by the governments of the two kingdoms.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the dialogue has served its objectives by affirming the existence of a pragmatic economic culture springing from the conference’s activities. He hoped that attention would be paid to dialogue among youths so that it would be a basic pivot to rely upon in promoting the objectives of the dialogue. “I do not believe that there is a similar dialogue on the international level that is based on exchanges among youths,” he said, stressing that there are benefits and gains that have been attained from this dialogue and expressing hope that these youths would pursue possibilities for deepening the dialogue in the future. “When the last dialogue was held in October 2007, the global economy was passing through a period of prosperity and the prices of petroleum were at high levels, but today we meet under the shadows of an economy hit by stagnation and a crisis that is unprecedented in more than 70 years,” he said. He pointed out that the current international economic crisis clearly revealed tensions between the forces of productivity on the one hand and the diverse forces of cooperation and rationalism that realized that the present situation required a global consensus to arrive at joint visions; to reconsider and to rearrange the cards concerning international financial institutions and create controls to reduce risks in the global economy and draft the required solutions to common obstacles.
He affirmed that Saudi Arabia’s role was potent and that its participation was valuable in the domain of international cooperation, something which bolsters the joint relationship between the two kingdoms. He said it was necessary to take longer in-depth leaps into the domain of joint relations. He pointed out that there were three in-depth priorities in that joint relationship: The first was stability in the region after it suffered from the consequences of instability and loss of security and protection. “Therefore we are partners with Saudi Arabia in this matter in which the weapons in Iran emerge, and stability and prosperity in Iraq and increased security and stability in Lebanon,” he said.
As for the second priority, Miliband said it was dealing with the economic crisis after its negative effects hit the world. He pointed out that Saudi Arabia continued to hold a strong position in confronting the situation and that it is the second largest partner for the UK and the first largest in the Middle East. Miliband added that changes in the Saudi economy are very important for the interests of the United Kingdom, adding that despite this there has to be planning for the future for the benefit of both sides, through to the period 2015 to 2020, to bolster the capability to remain strong on the international market. He stressed the need for a serious investment plan and restructuring the existing plan to face difficulties and provide work opportunities for the peoples of both countries. “We are proud that there are more than 14,000 Saudi students in the UK who are participating effectively within the educational system there, in addition to the existing cooperation between the Saudi University and its British counterparts, including the Leeds and Sheffield Universities who signed an agreement with King Saud University for nanotechnology, and we aspire for more scientific and academic cooperation between the two countries,” he said.
Miliband said that the third priority was related to climate change and energy conservation, especially since it is known that Saudi Arabia plays an important role in meeting the world’s growing need for energy as the global population rises from six billion to 9.5 billion by 2050. He said that there will be increasing demand for gas and energy most of which will come from Saudi Arabia. Consequently, Saudi investments bolster the benefit and make production available in a sustained way, said. Everybody recalls the extent of the kingdom’s contribution to market stability last summer, an effort that the entire world appreciated, he added.
Miliband said he hoped that the countries of the Middle East would increase their focus on developing production in relation to the environment. But he added that the two kingdoms should attach importance to this since recording any progress in technologies would represent a strong advantage for both of them.
Meanwhile, on the fringes of the Fourth Saudi-British Forum, the Council of Saudi Chambers launched in collaboration with the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce a practical training program for newly appointed employees.