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Saudi Arabia seeks trade deals, mulls BRICS offer to lift exports

October 28, 2023
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RIYADH : Saudi Arabia is looking to sign more free trade agreements and still considering joining the BRICS club of emerging nations, as it looks to boost non-oil exports, according to the Kingdom’s Minister of economy and planning, Faisal Al Ibrahim,

Authorities are exploring exploring trade deals with an “ambitious” list of countries, Faisal Al Ibrahim said in an interview, declining to name them. The government also wants to renegotiate some existing pacts to “unlock some challenges,” he said.

“Exports are growing, but not as much as we want them in terms of non-oil exports,” Al Ibrahim said. “We want them to grow faster.”

Saudi Arabia is lining up more free trade deals as it pursues a plan to diversify the $1.1 trillion economy to reduce its dependence on oil. It’s plowing billions of dollars into an attempt to become a global supply chain hub and creating new industries like electric vehicles and pharmaceuticals to meet local demand and for export to the Middle East and Africa.

The trade talks, which would be negotiated through the Gulf Cooperation Council bloc of six Middle East countries, aim to give the kingdom “access to export markets more easily, but also give us access to a secure supply of the imports needed for the manufacturing and the value-adding process that will happen in Saudi Arabia,” Al Ibrahim said.

The country’s free-trade agreements, or FTAs, currently “cover only 5%” of the global economy, he said.

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