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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Demonstrating strong strengthening of ties, Saudi Arabia and Russia kicked off a high-profile forum in Riyadh to identify critical opportunities to develop economic relationships.
Inaugurated on Monday, Made in Russia + Innoprom is a two-day event consolidating both nations’ commitment to mutually beneficial partnerships and sustained growth.
Speaking with Arab News on the sidelines of the event, Alexey Gruzdev, deputy minister of industry and trade of the Russian Federation, stressed the importance of imports to his country and urged companies to explore the Kingdom’s vast opportunities.
“Russian companies should come here (Saudi Arabia) to investigate and understand the experiences and capabilities of the local producers and also to see the materials, components, and services that can be imported from Saudi Arabia to Russia,” Gruzdev said.
Replying to Arab News’ question about measures Russia took to address the trade imbalance between the country and Saudi Arabia, Gruzdev said: “The reason we came here is to look into this great turnover and find a way to improve.”
He added: “It might sound strange that as a producing country, we also talk about imports, but this is the model of modern Russia; we are not only able to supply to the world, but we are also ready to import and procure good technologies and expertise from our partners.”
Gruzdev further explained that the country is now implementing an import substitution strategy to replace suppliers who try to impose sanctions on Russia with products and services from partner-friendly countries.
He said: “This kind of substitution means that we welcome goods from Saudi Arabia to Russia.”
He continued that Russia can significantly benefit from Saudi imports in a wide range of economic sectors.
“A big part is machinery,” Gruzdev added, “we can also benefit a lot from biotechnology, chemicals, components, and raw materials … there is a wide selection of interest.”
Gruzdev stated that Saudi businesses could utilize Russia’s large mining, pharmaceuticals, technology and aviation industries.
“I would also suggest Saudi companies invest in Russian startups and innovative companies in information technology, cybersecurity and renewable energy,” he added.
The event highlighted the immense opportunities in the digital economy and advanced technologies, emphasizing the necessity of collaboration in these burgeoning fields. The infrastructure sector also emerged as a promising avenue for joint ventures.
On the first day of the event, Saudi Deputy Minister of Investment Badr Al-Badr stressed the importance of Saudi-Russia trade relations, stating that the Soviet nation is the 14th largest exporter to the Kingdom, growing at 20 percent volume year on year last March.
“The trajectory of Saudi exports to Russia has not followed the same path; Saudi exports to Russia between 2017 and 2022 have grown only by about 30 percent,” Al-Badr said.
He added: “In 2022, the value of the Saudi export to Russia was only 2 percent of the value of imports from Russia. This is clearly a major opportunistic area for us.”
The deputy minister also underscored crucial sectors such as energy, technology and infrastructure, underlining their significant potential for bilateral cooperation.
Another key focus was the pivotal role of the energy and mining sector, with Saudi Arabia being the leading global oil exporter and Russia being a major oil and gas powerhouse.
These initiatives reflect the joint resolve of Saudi Arabia and Russia to boost economic ties, setting a new growth trajectory in the post-pandemic era.
Innoprom is the largest Russian industrial exhibition held in Yekaterinburg for the last 14 years.
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