Ladies and Gentlemen,
Peace be with you and the mercy and blessings of God.
I am delighted to be meeting with you today at the beginning of my tour of duty as Ambassador of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to the Swiss Confederation at a time when Saudi-Swiss relations are enjoying a quantum leap forward by virtue of the determination of the political leadership in both countries to boost and strengthen these relations in all fields in a manner conducive to the joint interests of our two friendly countries.
The international standing of the Swiss Confederation, the influential role that it plays on matters relating to the financial sector and the facilitation and enhancement of the provision of financial services, as well as its innovative abilities, make it a strategic partner for the Kingdom, with which it has maintained close ties dating back to the last century. The diplomatic relations that our two friendly countries established in 1927 have developed considerably since that date and the ongoing dialogue between our leaderships has been fostered by an exchange of visits and meetings between officials of the Kingdom and Switzerland with a view to ensuring closer coordination and devising and promoting means of bilateral cooperation in order to further consolidate their relations in all fields and sectors.
Given the importance that it attaches to the promotion of collaboration between the private sectors in our two countries, the Kingdom was eager for me to meet with you today.We hope that, as a result of your meetings, economic and trade relations between our two countries will be boosted in keeping with the aspirations of our leaderships.
The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Swiss Federal Council recently signed an agreement to avoiddouble taxation on income and capital and to prevent tax evasion. That agreement constitutes a robust legal framework defining fiscal relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Swiss Confederation, reducing the tax burden on investors and giving them an assurance of transparency in taxation. I invite businessmen in both countries to benefit from the fiscal advantages and reductions that the agreement offers for the implementation of more joint trade and investment projects. I would also like to draw attention to the fact that the volume of trade between the Kingdom and Switzerland amounts to around US$ 5.7 billion and, in keeping with the Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s Government is resolutely determined to embark on a race against time in order to achieve results that will dazzle the whole world in all industrial, research, trade, medical and economic fields, as well as all aspects of the development of infrastructure and services, by entering into fair competition with all countries in the field of tourism and establishing free trade areas extending from the Kingdom to Asia and Africa.
In light of the strength of the Saudi economy, the International Monetary Fund’s recent report entitled “World Economic Outlook” forecasted that the Kingdom’s GDP would grow at around 15.8 per cent, reaching US$ 795.58 billion in the present year 2019, and would continue to increase at a rate of around 18.7 per cent in 2020, amounting to a total of US$ 815 billion. The Kingdom would thereby rank among the world’s 20 largest economies. In recent years, the Kingdom’s Government accumulated reserves exceeding 1.8 trillion Saudi riyals, increased spending on health and educational service projects and developed its infrastructure by, inter alia, linking its cities through the largest modern road and rail network in its history. The Saudi Stock Market, which is the largest in the Middle East, has been opened to foreign investment and its inclusion in the FTSE Russell and S&P Dow Jones indices is a token of investors’ ongoing confidence in the Saudi market and the success of its economic reforms. The Kingdom is also contributing generously to developing countries and to the stability of global petroleum and financial markets.
Expansion of development programmes
Since more than 50 per cent of the Saudi population is under 25 years of age, we need to ensure a sustainable expansion of the development programmes affecting the lives of citizens. Particular attention must be paid to programmesfor the financing of small and medium-sized enterprises and the rationalization and diversification of sources of income. Given our leaderships’ eager desire and aspirations for the development of trade between our two countries, I am optimistic concerning strategic partnership and I would like to take this opportunity to invite Swiss businessmen to invest in the Kingdom, which is currently one of the most stable countries and, by virtue of the incentives and facilities that it offers, one of the most attractive to investors.
I also urge Saudi businessmen to examine, with their Swiss counterparts, the various investment opportunities in order to increase the volume of trade between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Swiss Confederation. It is well known that private sector growth constitutes a linchpin of the Kingdom’s policy and developmental process since its Government has accorded great importance to encouragement of the private sector and will continue to pursue its policies designed to overcome all the challenges that it might face so that it can accede to the high status on which we have set our sights.
I wish you all every success and thank you for your kind attention.