Minister of Economy and Planning Dr. Khaled Al-Gosabi, in the keynote address today at the fifth conference of the Saudi-Japanese Business Council, called on Japanese businessmen to invest in the Kingdom, especially in information technology, industry, petrochemicals and power generation. The goal of the Eighth Development Plan (2005-2009), he said, is to achieve a 30 percent growth rate in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in order to make Saudi Arabia “an international center for refined oil products and exporter of petrochemicals, minerals and metals as well as a regional and international center for advanced industrial technologies”. He went on to explain that the Kingdom has five of the top 500 corporations in the world and an enormous capital base, and that its strategic priority is to continue adding value to the barrel of crude oil while engaging in the production of petrochemicals and other energy-intensive products.
Japan is the Kingdom's second largest trading partner, and there are ten major Saudi-Japanese joint ventures. Two thousand projects in all have been licensed by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), worth around U.S. $15 billion, with the overseas investors' share, from 61 countries, at $12.5 billion. Dr. Al-Gosaibi also cited the Kingdom's economic reforms program covering privatization, including plans for a private domestic airline, and liberalization of the power generation and telecommunication sectors. In addition, coming into effect next month is the Capital Markets Law, which will serve as a regulatory framework.