First of all I would like to thank his Excellency the ambassador for hosting this meeting and all the journalists for their presence. It is important to say that the second Forum for Business Opportunities is organized by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and with the active collaboration of the Council of Saudi Chambers and the Saudi-French Business Council CAFS. I would also like to thank all the French organizers from the Ministry of Economy and Business for the exerted efforts to make this Forum a success. I have to say that the first Forum held in 2013 addressed the Kingdom’s needs in infra-structure projects. It was clear that France had an important share un these projects, for example and not limited to, the Riyadh public transportation projects including subway and buses, Kingdom-wide water-supply works.
But the headlines of our next Forum, in addition to the previous ones, for energy projects, reflect the current approach of the Kingdom and its economic policies regarding:
- The Diversification of the sources of income through expanding the industrial and economic base.
- The use of new technologies and information and their establishments.
- Switching to a knowledge-based economy.
- Providing training and quality education to create business opportunities for the Saudi youth.
- Taking care of the small and medium size companies as they are the cornerstone of the economic structure.
I will let the details of the Forum to Mr. Roman Keraval to state the names of some participants from both sides.
I would like to talk about the role of the Business Councils in general and the Saudi French Business Council in particular as a link between the business communities in both countries.
- Developing and enhancing relationships between the two work communities and informing the representatives and participants of both sides about the economic chances.
- Encouraging exports, exchanging goods and services, and organizing exhibitions in both countries.
- Cooperate and communicate with the responsible parties of the two countries to improve the atmosphere of co-operation and facing obstacles disturbing business in different ways.
(I would like to remind you that during the meeting of his Excellency, the Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. Tawfiq AlRabiah and the French Foreign Minister, in June of last year through the works of the joint committee, his Excellency Dr.Tawfeek talked about the difficulty to get Schengen visa for businessmen, the slow progress of the procedure for sighting its application and its validity. The Minister Mr. Laurent Fabius immediately addressed his Excellency to issue visas for five years, or as long as the passport is valid and it was immediately applied. I hope that the Kingdom will move forward in this direction to make it easier for French businessmen to get visas and allow commercial visits for one or two years with multiple entries in order to benefit the business sector in both countries.
- Encouraging the construction of economic projects in both countries by identifying the best available sources for funding and offering services for businessmen interested in these projects.
- Working on settling commercial disputes that may arise between businessmen in both countries in a friendly way.
- Developing continuous training programs, technology and knowledge transfers.
I have a message to Saudi businessmen: there is no doubt that although France is the largest market in the region, we do not have to see it from this perspective only. France is also an industrial developed country that is ready to do business in our Arab world and offers opportunities of investment that can be used in the Kingdom.
On the other hand, my message to French businessmen and companies would be that the largest market in the area is the Kingdom. The incentives offered by our government for funding industrial projects are the best compared to neighboring countries, the rate of taxes for foreign investors is fractional and constant, and describing all the positive aspects would be a long task. My advice to our French friends is to be on the field and run their administrations and companies near their clients, i.e. here in the Kingdom not from France or any regional administrations outside the Kingdom. Also they have to understand the future vision of the Kingdom for its economy and priorities to make our meetings useful for both countries.
Finally, on behalf of my colleagues in the Saudi-French Business Council, and in accordance with the new Executive Rule of foreign Business Councils, I would like to announce that the Saudi French Business Council CAFS website will be launched during the Forum .The website address is www.cafs.org.sa.
In addition to the council’s news, its presentation, its members and its agenda, we wanted this website to participate in offering opportunities for the Saudi students who are studying in France or those who finished their studies there to put their personal CV on the CAFS website if in case they are looking for a job or a summer training with French companies in the Kingdom, as some universities insist on students’ training in companies during their scholar curriculum.
The French spouses of French expatriates in the Kingdom can likewise upload their personal CV on the Council Website in case they are looking for a job.
Of course the site is in French for now, but it will be launched in three languages: Arabic, French and English.
Thank you for your attention.