FDI drops but Kingdom upbeat on investments
Foreign direct investment in Saudi Arabia dropped 23.67 percent to $9.298 billion in 2013 from $12.182 billion in the previous year, according to a report issued by the UN Conference on Trade & Development.
But Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) said it had launched a series of programs during the past two years to make the Kingdom more investment-friendly and achieve balanced economic growth in all parts of the country.
The UNCTAD report said FDIs received by the Kingdom last year was the lowest since 2008, when the figure was $39.456 billion. The UAE holds the first position in the Gulf region now in terms of FDI.
According to UNCTAD, Saudi Arabia received FDIs worth $16.3 billion in 2011, $29.23 billion in 2010 and $36.45 billion in 2009.
SAGIA issued 118 licenses for new investment projects in 2013 involving a capital investment of SR36.8 billion, its annual report said.
“We have enhanced coordination of investment-related government agencies and set up a special team to speed up investment procedures,” said Abdullatif Al-Othman, governor of SAGIA.
The authority has initiated investment promotion agreements with a number of countries including Japan, Uruguay, Georgia, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Croatia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in 2013.
“We have adopted new conditions and criteria for issuing and renewing licenses,” the governor said.
“We have removed a number of conditions such as the presence of investor inside the Kingdom and started issuing licenses for three years for high value adding investment firms.”
Al-Othman said SAGIA was now encouraging international companies to invest in the Kingdom and high-value adding investment that achieve transfer of advanced technology and create more jobs for Saudis. “We’ll also follow up the investors and cancel the licenses of those who violate the law. We’ll not renew licenses of firms who used the license for works other than it was issued for.”
Al-Othman said SAGIA was studying a number of new investment initiatives in association with various government departments. “These include plans to set up industries for building materials required by the country,” he added.