Minister of Finance and National Economy Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf, addressing the opening session of the Saudi-Russian Joint Commission in Moscow today, advocated economic cooperation between the Kingdom and the Russian Federation as the world's largest exporters of petroleum and petrochemicals. Both countries, he added, not only have vast reserves of crude oil, but also have suitable environments for investment. The Saudi economy, he said, is attractive for investment, and the Kingdom's economic policy is based on the principles of free enterprise. At the moment, Saudi Arabia produces about five percent of the world's petrochemicals, marketing them in 75 countries.
Dr. Al-Assaf went on to describe the Kingdom's privatization strategy as aimed at enabling the private sector to play an important role in the process of economic development. The rate of inflation is very low, and the Saudi currency is stable and strong. Saudi exports to Russia amounted to about SR 7.16 million [U.S. $ 1.91 million] in 2001, while its imports from Russia that year amounted to SR 384.5 million [$ 102.67 million]. Dr. Al-Assaf expressed the hope that more joint Saudi-Russian projects would be set up, there being only one at the moment, and urged the business sectors in the two countries to exert further efforts for exploring new horizons of commercial and investment cooperation between the Kingdom and Russia.