RIYADH: British and Arab companies and investors will be shoring up regional synergies and business collaborations to tide through the geopolitical scenarios and inflationary climate plaguing the global economy.
As part of the Arab-British Economic Summit in London on Nov. 2, the Asia British Chamber of Commerce, a Saudi-British joint council, will host its second meet in the city, with prominent leaders collaborating, discussing and examining vital matters to develop economic relations between the UK and the 22 nations of the Arab world.
Themed “Shaping a Shared Vision,” the event will receive business owners and investors from the UK and the Arab world, coming together in hopes of building a prosperous future.
It will commence with welcoming remarks from Elizabeth Symons, the chair of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce, followed by a speech from the secretary-general and CEO of ABCC, Dr. Bandar Reda.
“The tremendous response to the summit would add impetus to building stronger UK-Arab relations,” said Symons.
The gathering will discuss topics ranging from climate change issues and health matters to innovative education and the fintech revolution.
This year, the meeting will explore the power of technology and how it can transform financial services and the banking sector.
The move assumes significance considering the political and trade imbalances that have swept several economies off their feet. According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK trade deficit widened to £7.1 billion ($8.1 billion) in August from a downwardly revised £5.4 billion in the previous month.
In August, UK imports, excluding precious metals, rose by £3.1 billion or 5.7 percent, driven by a £3.5 billion increase in higher non-EU imports of fuel, machinery and transport equipment.
Total exports, excluding precious metals, rose by £400 million or 1.2 percent in the same month, led by a £700 million rise in non-EU exports, whereas exports to the EU dropped by £300 million or 1.5 percent.
According to the UN Comtrade database on international trade, merchandise exports from Western Asia and Northern Africa to the UK rose 47.8 percent to reach $1.595 trillion in 2021.
The region’s imports rose by 22.1 percent to reach $1,291.9 billion that year.
The trade balance documented a surplus of $293.8 billion in 2021 compared to a surplus of $14.8 billion the year before.
According to data from the department of international trade, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are the leading Arab countries in UK trade.
The UK traded £13.6 billion worth of goods and services with the UAE in the year leading up to the first quarter of 2022, accounting for 1 percent of the UK’s total trade, standing as its 24th largest trading partner.
Saudi Arabia, the 27th largest trading partner with 0.8 percent of total UK trade, reported the data. Its total trade amounted to £11.3 billion in the year ending in the first quarter of 2022.
The total trade of Qatar and Kuwait with the UK during the same period amounted to £6.2 billion and £2.4 billion, respectively. Likewise, the total trade of Oman and Bahrain with the UK was £1.1 billion and £889 million, respectively.
Free trade opportunity
The UK also launched a free trade agreement in Riyadh with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in June of this year, opening investment and job opportunities and increasing the flow of goods and services.
As the UK’s seventh largest export market, the Gulf’s demand for international goods and services is expected to surge 35 percent by 2035 to reach £800 billion.
“Today marks the next significant milestone in our five-star year of trade as we step up the UK’s close relationship with the Gulf,” said UK Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan on the day of the agreement.
Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organization, said: “We welcome the launch of free trade negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council, which will ensure that British manufacturing benefits from future positive flows of goods and services into the Gulf region.”
Besides the trade, the economic summit will also analyze the consequences of global warming and the steps that must be taken against it.
This summit aims to tackle the new obstacles that have risen in a post-pandemic and post-Brexit world. It will achieve so by reinforcing trade ties and promoting bilateral investment flows.
More importantly, it will address the importance of accomplishing this through sustainable and environmentally friendly ways.
The Arab-British Economic Summit in 2019 was an incredible success, as it worked as a catalyst between interested investors and entrepreneurs.
Additionally, the speakers addressed pre-existing challenges such as youth unemployment, water scarcity, and other economic barriers that prevailed in the Middle Eastern and Arab regions. They also proposed solutions on how UK-Arab cooperation could reduce them.
Also, it put forth the potential of achieving significant projects in the region through collaboration between the UK and the Arab nations.