Austrian Ambassador: We Aim to Deepen Economic, Investment Cooperation with Saudi Arabia

Austrian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Oskar Wustinger
Austrian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Oskar Wustinger
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Austrian Ambassador: We Aim to Deepen Economic, Investment Cooperation with Saudi Arabia

Austrian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Oskar Wustinger
Austrian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Oskar Wustinger

Oskar Wustinger, the Austrian Ambassador to Riyadh, has highlighted a robust shared aspiration between Austria and Saudi Arabia that is currently driving private sector companies in both nations to actively bolster bilateral investments across a range of vital sectors.

These sectors encompass infrastructure, transportation, mining, tourism, entertainment, green technology, and renewable energy.

This comes at a time Vienna is looking forward to hosting the upcoming Saudi-Austrian Joint Economic Committee meetings in May 2024.

“Bilateral relations between the two countries are exceptionally robust on both the political and economic fronts,” Wustinger told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“This is evident in the multifaceted nature and scale of participation across various levels, including high-level ministerial meetings,” he explained, reminding that the Saudi minister of economy and planning had recently returned from a successful visit to Vienna.

“We see significant investment opportunities in working together in the realms of infrastructure, transportation, mining, tourism, entertainment, green technology, and renewable energy,” affirmed the diplomat.

“Saudi Arabia’s vast expanses of land and abundant resources in sunlight, wind, and seawater position it favorably to become a key producer of solar and wind energy, in addition to green hydrogen,” he added.

“We explored avenues to deepen bilateral cooperation in areas such as environmental concerns, cybersecurity, and dual education – a highly successful system that combines hands-on corporate training with professional academic education.”

“For instance, an Austrian company is already providing training to apprentices in its factory within the King Abdullah Economic City,” clarified Wustinger.

According to Wustinger, Austrian companies possess leading global capabilities in respective fields and have the necessary expertise to support Saudi Arabia in achieving climate neutrality by 2060.

He also pointed to another sector of mutual interest, which is tourism. This sector significantly contributes to Austria’s GDP and provides employment opportunities for thousands of Austrians.

Wustinger expressed his delight at the recent visit of a delegation of senior officials from the Austrian hospitality sector to Riyadh, as part of a trip organized by the Austrian National Tourism Office.

One of the objectives of this visit was to gain a firsthand assessment of the numerous impressive Saudi tourism initiatives.

He also highlighted a substantial increase in trade between the two nations following the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2022, Austrian exports to Saudi Arabia grew by 51%, reaching 481 million euros ($508.7 million), while Saudi exports to Austria increased by a remarkable 662%, totaling 180 million euros ($190.3 million).

Austrian exports in the first half of 2023 demonstrated a strong upward trend, with Saudi exports to Austria increasing by an impressive 372%.

Wustinger emphasized the growing interest among Austrian companies in engaging with Saudi Arabia.

In March, Austria’s Minister of Labor and Economy Martin Kocher visited Riyadh alongside the largest-ever delegation of Austrian businessmen.

Wustinger also highlighted the successful convening of the Saudi-Austrian Joint Economic Committee in Riyadh in 2022.

Moreover, the commercial section of the embassy had organized an Austrian trade mission in each of Riyadh and Dammam.

There is great anticipation for the upcoming Joint Economic Committee meeting scheduled to take place in Vienna in May 2024, stressed Wustinger.

“Our capital not only hosts official UN headquarters but also accommodates OPEC and OPEC+—two organizations of immense importance to Saudi Arabia,” he noted.

“Many Austrian institutions and companies are eager to contribute significantly to the success of Vision 2030,” said Wustinger in reference to Saudi Arabia’s national transformation plan.

He affirmed that there is always room for further deepening of relationships, particularly at the individual level.

Wustinger indicated his consideration of other areas, particularly in sports, culture, and science.

The ambassador also expressed delight that many Saudi tourists choose Austria as a destination for their vacations.

“We hope to see more Austrian tourists coming to Saudi Arabia to marvel at its natural beauty, cultural heritage, and the warm hospitality of its people,” Wustinger remarked.

There is a significant role played by the Austrian Embassy in Riyadh in promoting bilateral cultural exchange through a wide array of cultural projects involving Saudi and European partners, stressed Wustinger.

He also mentioned that the long-established archaeological mission from the University of Vienna has resumed its work in Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk region.



IMF Board Approves Argentina Payout of Almost $800 Mn

Argentina's president Javier Milei has vowed to get inflation back down - AFP
Argentina's president Javier Milei has vowed to get inflation back down - AFP
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IMF Board Approves Argentina Payout of Almost $800 Mn

Argentina's president Javier Milei has vowed to get inflation back down - AFP
Argentina's president Javier Milei has vowed to get inflation back down - AFP

The IMF executive board voted to approve a payout of almost $800 million for Argentina as it continues a program of drastic economic reforms under its libertarian president, Javier Milei.

A self-declared "anarcho-capitalist," Milei has vowed to halt Argentina's economic decline and reduce the budget deficit to zero, and has embarked on a program to slash public spending and bring down inflation, which remains at an annual rate of more than 275 percent, AFP reported.

"The Executive Board assessed the program to be firmly on track, with all quantitative performance criteria through end-March 2024 met with margins," the International Monetary Fund said in a statement.

The decision by the IMF executive board to approve the eighth review of its loan program with the Latin American nation will allow for the disbursement of just over $793 million, bringing the total disbursements under the existing program to more than $41 billion.

"The Board emphasized that sustaining the strong progress requires improving the quality of fiscal adjustment, initiating steps towards an enhanced monetary and FX (foreign exchange) policy framework, and implementing the structural agenda," the IMF said.

"Continued efforts to support the vulnerable, broaden political support and ensure agile policymaking will also be necessary," it added.

"The good news continues," Milei wrote on X, sharing the IMF statement.

The payout approval follows an announcement earlier in the day that Argentine inflation came in at 4.2 percent in May, the lowest in two-and-a-half years, according to the INDEC statistics agency.