The Joint Saudi-Iranian Commission began in Riyadh today its first two-day session at the ministerial level. The head of the Saudi delegation is Minister of Commerce Osama Faqih, who stated that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran are linked with bonds of Islamic fraternity. He referred to the positive contribution to enhancing the pillars of bilateral relations resulting from the visit to Iran during the eighth Islamic Summit by Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard.
Minister Faqih noted that the signing in May, 1998 of the general agreement for cooperation in the economic, commercial, investment, scientific and technical spheres, reflects the great attention being given by the officials of both countries to developing joint cooperation with a spirit of understanding and a genuine desire to mobilize of all available potentials in the service of mutual interests. He observed: "Since we are living in the era of globalization and liberation of international trade, it has become an essential matter to enable the machinery of the market to effectively play its basic role; moreover, we should work for enhancing the pillars of commercial relations on the principles of free exchange and removal of all kinds of trade barriers."
He went on to say that bilateral cooperation should be more comprehensive and more balanced so as to enable the two parties to benefit from all available opportunities, adding that similarity of major exports and industrial products should never become an obstacle for implementation of joint investment projects. On the contrary, it should be an incentive for the creation of new projects that meet the requirements of the market and pave the way for enhancing cooperation between the private sectors in the two countries. He explained that the Kingdom has been adopting a policy of free enterprise and support of the private sector in order to realize comprehensive economic development.
Minister Faqih declared that Saudi Arabia's policy is to diversify its sources of income and broaden its productive base as well as laying the foundation for a developed national industry of high quality, with competitive prices, and to international standards. He reported that Saudi products are now marketed in 118 countries, and the value of exports rose in 1997 to about SR 207 billion (U.S. $ 55.2 billion), adding that the balance of trade grew that year at a rate of eight percent, with the value of non-oil exports amounting to SR 28 billion (U.S. $ 7.5 billion).