Minister of Commerce Osama Faqih has been on a brief visit to the United States, where he headed the Saudi delegation to an international conference in Washingtron DC on the reconstruction of Lebanon. The State-Department-sponsored conference pledged U.S. $ 2 billion in the form of loans, military equipment, educational materials, supplies, and development aid, to be implemented over a number of years.
Speaking on Tuesday at a function arranged by the U.S.-Saudi Business Council, Minister Faqih characterized Saudi-American economic and commercial relations as good, pointing to the fact that the United States is the Kingdom's largest trade partner, and stressing the importance of Saudi and American companies working in partnership. Noting how the Saudi economy is moving forward, he stated that the government's economic policies are conducive to growth, and underlined the efforts being made by the Kingdom to keep up with progressive economic development, including accelerating privatization with the aim of making the Saudi economy more attractive for foreign investment and of encouraging the establishment of joint ventures between the private sector and foreign partners.
Turning to the progress of the talks on the Saudi bid for membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Minister Faqih expressed satisfaction and predicted that the Kingdom may be a member by the end of 1997.