Saudi and Belgian companies signed 15 business and partnership agreements in different sectors, including infrastructure, health, renewable energy and other commercial sectors, here Sunday at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC).
Most significant among these agreements is the partnership for the production of the Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) vaccine in Saudi Arabia.
The high-profile event was led by Princess Astrid, who was accompanied by three Belgian ministers. The delegation will also visit Jubail and Jeddah during this trip.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), who was also present pledged to do more business with Belgian investors.
He said that Saudi-Belgian relations are in constant evolution since their beginnings in 1954.
He underlined the role of businessmen and businesswomen of both countries who have played a big role in shaping relations.
“We have to encourage these efforts,” said Prince Alwaleed at a dinner hosted by the CSC.
In his welcome address, Abdullah Al-Mobty, chairman of the CSC, said the volume of trade between the two countries increased from around $1.8 billion in 2003 to around $6.8 billion in 2012.
Belgium ranked 19th among countries in the world in terms of trade volume with Saudi Arabia in 2012, which is a remarkable development in their bilateral relations, Al-Mobty said.
On the sidelines of the event, Belgium Minister of Economy Jean-Calude Marcourt told Arab News that Saudi Arabia and Belgium have long-standing traditional, commercial and industrial relations.
Pieter Timmermans, CEO of the federation of enterprises in Belgium, said: “I can confirm that Belgium offers many benefits for Saudi entrepreneurs and investors wishing to expand within Europe.”
“What make us a prominent prospective international trade partner are exceptional location, excellent port and airport, leading technologies, high-quality workforce and very high quality of life.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders told Arab News: “We have a lot of Saudis investing in Belgium and we also have lot of Belgian companies here in Saudi Arabia.”
“We held a meeting with Riyadh Gov. Prince Khaled bin Bandar and the mayor of the city to discuss various areas of cooperation,” he said. “We have capacity to build, finance and manage new hospitals and new technologies in other fields, such as wastewater treatment, renewable energy and new kinds of clean energy.”
There are over 350 executives of 172 major firms in what has been described as the largest ever mission to Kingdom and the eighth such mission during the last 40 years.