Minister of Industry and Electricity Dr. Hashim Yamani yesterday chaired a meeting of the Board of Directors of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), which reviewed progress on the expansion projects aimed at increasing SABIC's annual output to over 35 million tons by the end of next year. Minister Yamani reported substantial improvement in the fields of operation, production and marketing, and underlined SABIC's efforts to achieve excellence in operations and an increase in performance, offsetting the effect of international economic depression. He noted SABIC's endeavors to achieve greater integration with downstream industries and other productive sectors in order to increase its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP).
On Monday, SABIC announced its plan to build an acetic acid plant in the industrial city of Yanbu on the Red Sea. The new plant, to be commissioned by 2004, will have a capacity of 200,000 ton per year, and is part of the plan to almost triple SABIC's polyester production to 390,000 tons a year. Acetic acid is used in the manufacture of paints and adhesives as well as textiles.
Meanwhile, a book published by the Ministry of Planning on Monday reported that up to 1997 the government had extended soft loans worth SR 23.5 billion (U.S. $ 6.27 billion) for industrial projects, and that the contribution of the industrial sector to the GDP was 5.7 percent in that year. The 2,533 industrial plants then operating had a total capital investment of SR 164.7 billion (U.S. $ 43.92 billion). Of note were the Kingdom's seven cement factories, which in 1997 produced 15.45 million tons of cement, and posted a combined profit of SR 1.64 billion (U.S. $ 0.44 billion). In 1997, Saudi Arabia's industrial exports totaled SR 23.43 billion (U.S. $ 6.25 billion).