Lord Mayor of London: Intense Efforts Underway to Deepen Partnerships between Saudi Arabia, UK

Lord Mayor of London Michael Mainelli. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Lord Mayor of London Michael Mainelli. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
TT

Lord Mayor of London: Intense Efforts Underway to Deepen Partnerships between Saudi Arabia, UK

Lord Mayor of London Michael Mainelli. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Lord Mayor of London Michael Mainelli. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Lord Mayor of London Michael Mainelli revealed that intense efforts are underway to maximize fintech, green financing, AI, space and cyberspace partnerships with Saudi Arabia.

He added that the UK and Saudi Arabia are important trade partners. “The UK is Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner in Europe,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview on the sidelines of his participation at the special meeting of the World Economic Forum in Riyadh last week.

“By working together, British expertise and innovation in sustainable finance can help the Saudi financial services sector to unlock the huge opportunities offered by the green transition,” he remarked.

“One of the major projects we have coming up with Saudi Arabia is the UK-Saudi Sustainable Infrastructure Summit taking place at Mansion House in London on the 24 June in partnership with the Saudi British Joint Business Council (SBJBC UK),” he revealed.

Greatest trade partner

Moreover, Mainelli said: “The UK and Saudi Arabia are important trade partners. The UK is Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner in Europe with trade worth £17.4 billion (SAR 82 billion). Meanwhile the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is the UK’s fourth largest trading partner with trade worth £65 billion (AR 305 billion). While Saudi investment in the UK is estimated to be worth up to £65 billion (SAR 305 billion).”

“We welcome the ongoing free-trade negotiations between the GCC and the UK and we hope it follows the recommendations of the UK-GCC Joint Trade and Investment Review, which called for swift progress on market access in professional, business and financial services,” he went on to say.

On the importance of the Davos Riyadh Forum and to what extent there will be new opportunities for bilateral, regional and global cooperation in providing clean energy, he said: “The World Economic Forum in Riyadh was an opportunity for Saudi Arabia to showcase the extraordinary progress they’ve made in diversifying their economy away from oil and gas as part of their ambitious Vision 2030.”

“It's great that Saudi Arabia is looking really deep into its future, and I applaud that. I think where Saudi Arabia is headed in hydrogen technology has great potential, as well as in the fields of biology and healthcare,” stressed Mainelli.

“One of the best things about Vision 2030 is the creation of good intellectual jobs for the Saudi people. It is an uplifting vision of what a nation of 40 million can achieve,” he said.

“The UK and London’s expertise in fintech, green finance and insurance make it a natural partner of choice to help Saudi Arabia achieve its Vison 2030 objectives of a diversified economy, financial inclusion and sustainable development.”

“As the UK’s international ambassador for financial and professional services I’m here in the Kingdom to meet with Saudi Arabia’s emerging fintech and green finance clusters, as well as AI and space companies. I will also be holding bilateral meetings with ministers from the finance ministry and investment ministry to discuss how best to deepen our partnership with Saudi Arabia in financial services, notably insurance, banking, digital, green finance, cybersecurity and fintech,” he revealed.

Twinning between London, Riyadh

On the trend towards twinning between London and Riyadh and the most important cooperation projects proposed for both parties, he noted that the UK-Saudi Sustainable Infrastructure Summit in June is one of the major projects coming up with Saudi Arabia.

“The summit will convene up to 200 high-level participants, including policymakers, industry leaders, and financial professionals from the UK and Saudi Arabia, alongside international attendees. It will focus on facilitating knowledge exchange between the UK and Saudi Arabia, with an ambition on deepening existing bilateral partnerships,” said Mainelli.

“In addition, it will encourage more UK financial and professional firms to become proactive partners in offering their skills, products, expertise and capital to help Saudi Arabia reach their sustainable infrastructure ambitions as outlined in Vision 2030. It also demonstrates the importance of creating partnerships and meaningful long-term collaboration between the two Kingdoms.”

“The topics of the summit include: The importance of UK-Saudi Collaboration in Sustainable Infrastructure Development and Advancing the Green Transition; Financing Sustainable Infrastructure: Bridging the investment gap, and the role of public-private partnerships and innovative financing models; Urbanization and Sustainable City Development: Giga Projects and smart urban planning; Green Technology and Renewable Energy Initiatives: Scaling green technologies and promoting innovation,” he revealed.

Mainelli added: “Saudi Arabia is a country at the heart of economic transformation and sustainable development through its economic diversification plan, Vision 2030. With the UK a world leader in sustainable finance, I’m confident that the summit will create solutions and set a template for the rest of the world to follow.”



Foreign Direct Investment in China Drops 28% in Five Months

A Tesla sign is seen on the Shanghai Gigafactory of the US electric car maker before a delivery ceremony in Shanghai, China January 7, 2020. Reuters
A Tesla sign is seen on the Shanghai Gigafactory of the US electric car maker before a delivery ceremony in Shanghai, China January 7, 2020. Reuters
TT

Foreign Direct Investment in China Drops 28% in Five Months

A Tesla sign is seen on the Shanghai Gigafactory of the US electric car maker before a delivery ceremony in Shanghai, China January 7, 2020. Reuters
A Tesla sign is seen on the Shanghai Gigafactory of the US electric car maker before a delivery ceremony in Shanghai, China January 7, 2020. Reuters

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in China dropped 28.2% to reach 412.5 billion yuan (approximately $57.94 billion) during the first five months of 2024 from the same period last year, data released by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said on Saturday.

Despite the decline, 21,764 new foreign-invested firms were established across China in the reporting period, an increase of 17.4%, Xinhua News Agency quoted the Ministry as saying.

“The scale of foreign investment in actual use is still at a historically high level,” according to a ministry official, who attributed the decline mainly to a high comparison base last year.

The manufacturing sector attracted 28.4%, or ¥117.1 billion, of the total FDI inflow, up 2.8% points from the same period last year and indicating continued improvement in investment structure.

FDI inflows into smart consumer equipment manufacturing and professional technical services increased 332.9% and 103.1% year-on-year, respectively.

Meanwhile, China sees significant improvement in the World Competitiveness Ranking 2024 thanks to its strong economic performance, said Arturo Bris, director of the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) World Competitiveness Center.

The new ranking released by the IMD on Tuesday showed that Singapore is the world's most competitive economy, while China is rapidly closing the gap climbing by seven positions thanks to its strong economic recovery post-pandemic.

“The Chinese performance this year is interesting. There is a significant improvement of seven positions. It is one of the countries that has improved the most. Certainly, we see China climbing to the top 10 sooner rather than later,” Bris told Xinhua via video link on Tuesday regarding the ranking.

“China has now reached the 14th position after ranking 21st last year. This is first of all explained by the strong performance of the economy after COVID,” he said.

“There has been improvement in corporate governance practices of Chinese companies and there is better access to talent and financing of technologies in companies. All in all, this points out to a more favorable business environment provided by the government,” Bris said.

Asia is the big winner this year and countries like China, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia all improved their positions in the competitiveness ranking, he said.

In the coming years, there will be more fragmentation and protectionism in the global economy, Bris added.

“Countries that have better domestic markets, access to commodities and natural resources like China, are going to perform much better compared to Europe or Latin America. China is going to perform very well in a fragmented economy,” the IMD director noted.

The World Competitiveness Ranking 2024 showed that Switzerland ranked second, and Denmark ranked third.

The ranking also showed that emerging markets are catching up with more advanced economies, especially in the areas of innovation, digitalization, and diversification.