Arab News | 13 October 2013
GCC-Singapore free trade deal boon for Saudi firms
RIYADH: RODOLFO C. ESTIMO JR. | ARAB NEWS STAFF
The Saudi private sector is likely to benefit from the Gulf Cooperation Council-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (GSFTA) which came into effect recently, says Abdullah Zaid Al- Meleihi, chairman of the Saudi-Singapore Business Council (SSBC).
“Singapore is an attractive area for Saudi investors. It’s also rising as the largest center for asset management, whose size is estimated to be $1.29 trillion this year,” Al-Meleihi told Arab News.
The SSBC comprises 18 Saudi investors and 12 Singaporean counterparts.
He said joint ventures with special facilities could be set up both in Saudi Arabia and Singapore with the support of the SSBC under the agreement.
“The prospects are indeed bright not only for Saudi investors but also for their Singaporeans well,” he said, adding that both countries have strong economies.
Citibank has forecast that Saudi Arabia will be the Middle East’s richest economy in terms of GDP per capita by 2050, with Saudis having an average wealth of $98, 311. Singapore, on the other hand, is set to top the rankings with $137,710.
“In this connection, we are encouraging Saudi investors to invest in Singapore instead of Europe,” he said.
“The idea is to make Singapore as a launching pad.”
He said: “Once the joint venture in Singapore takes off and prospers, the investors could infuse capital in other parts of the region like China whose economy is forecast to grow 7.6 percent.”
Singaporean businessmen will also be encouraged to invest in the Kingdom, he said.
“The idea here is not only for them to cash in but also to share their economic and financial expertise with the younger generation of Saudi businessmen,” he said.
A major encouragement for Singaporeans to invest in the Kingdom is the fact that the Saudi gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter of this year was up 2.7 percent compared to the same period last year, he said.
The GSFTA covers trade in goods, services, investments, rules of origin, customs procedures, government procurement, electronic commerce and economic cooperation.