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Saudi Arabia Strong Market for US Firms: Ex-Im Chairman

Middle East : 08 February 2013

Source: The Saudi Gazette 2013

Saudi Arabia represents an “exceedingly” strong market for US companies, Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg said.

“Part of that has been driven by… diversification of economies,” Hochberg said in an interview yesterday in Riyadh. “We see a lot of opportunity here. US companies haven’t been here sufficiently.”

The Saudi government has announced investment plans of more than $500 billion as the Kingdom tries to diversify the economy away from oil, which accounts for 90 percent of government revenue, and expand airports and build roads and rail lines.

Saudi Arabia raised total spending in its budget by almost a fifth this year to $219 billion.

The Ex-Im Bank authorized in September a $5 billion loan to Sadara Chemical Co., a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemical Co. The credit for construction of the petrochemical complex in Jubail on the Gulf boosted total Ex-Im Bank loans to the world’s largest exporter to $5.5 billion, or almost half of the $11.8 billion in loans authorized in 2012, according to the Washington-based bank’s annual report.

Power, water, rail and solar provide “opportunities” in Saudi Arabia that match “real US strengths,” Hochberg said.

Separately, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) announced that banks in the Kingdom posted a combined profit of $8.92 billion last year, higher by 8.4 percent from 2011.

SAMA said that the figure is the second highest since 2006, when profits hit a record $9.21 billion.

The increase was attributed to lower provisions for bad debt compared with the previous few years and a rise in lending.

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