EU ECONOMIC DIPLOMACY STRAGEGY IN SAUDI ARABIA FOR 2018 sa.doc - EED PRIORITIES AND ACTION PLAN Saudi Arabia 1 Introduction Saudi Arabia is currently

EU ECONOMIC DIPLOMACY STRAGEGY IN SAUDI ARABIA FOR 2018 sa.doc

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EED PRIORITIES AND ACTION PLAN Saudi Arabia 1. Introduction Saudi Arabia is currently undergoing a very ambitious and challenging economic and social transformation. The oil-dependent economy has suffered due to a substantial drop in oil prices in 2014, which have made a permanent mark in the economic development, and the economy has not fully recovered to date. Mindful of its economic vulnerability to oil price volatility, increasing domestic consumption and decreasing oil demand due to growing trend in green technologies globally, the Kingdom has embarked on the path of substantial economic reforms in accordance with its Saudi Vision 2030. 2. Existing policy context There is currently no trade agreement between the EU and Saudi Arabia. The EU- GCC FTA negotiations have stalled since 2008, and no clear signs of a genuine interest to re-engage has been seen on the GCC side which has been further affected by the crisis on Qatar. Our relations are therefore guided by the EU-GCC Cooperation Agreement, which provides a framework for cooperation in all areas including economic. As such, the EU has undertaken regular discussions on energy, macro-economic matters and trade and investment at regional level under this Agreement. An important progress in our economic cooperation was seen in 2017 following several high-level visits from the European Commission, namely Vice President Jyrki Katainen, and Commissioners Violeta Bulc and Paul Hogan. The launch of the EU- GCC trade and investment dialogue, including a considerable DG TRADE delegation to Riyadh, further underlined the importance of bilateral contacts in order to further push for EU agenda. The GCC is in fact notorious for signing agreements and giving important contracts within the framework of high-level visits, and the above EU attention to Saudi Arabia in 2017 triggered in our host country a higher interest to work with the EU, resulting among other in the appointment of a Saudi ambassador to EU at the end of the year. A bilateral cooperation arrangement (similar to the one between EU and Kuwait) is currently under consideration by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To materialise on this new appetite for cooperation locally, the EU has recently engaged with Saudi Arabia in view of the implementation of the Saudi Vision 2030, and established the EU-Saudi Vision 2030 Working Group. The WG is due to start its regular meetings in January 2018, and will enable technical level discussion on issues related to trade and investment facilitation. 1
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The EU Delegation in Riyadh has been working closely with EU MS on economic diplomacy prior to the launch of this exercise. Many activities have been either developed or executed in coordination with MS, including common development of terms of references or while joining efforts and building on available resources on both sides.
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