History of the U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum
The first convocation of the U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum was held in the U.S. in Chicago in 2010. Inspired by the vision of the Minister of Commerce and Industry, H.E. Abdullah Alireza, the event attracted a record setting 1,100 business men and women from both countries to explore new opportunities for collaboration and to expand existing business ties. It was the largest gathering of its kind to-date in the history of the Saudi-U.S. bilateral business relationship.
That event was followed by similarly successful Forums of the same scale and breadth in Atlanta in 2011 and Los Angeles in 2013. Now, under the patronage of H.E. Dr. Tawfig Alrabiah, Minister of Commerce and Industry, the 4th Saudi-U.S. Business Opportunities Forum has come home to Riyadh.
Each Forum has presented an unparalleled platform for updated reviews of major projects and priorities of Saudi Arabia's public and private sector as well as outstanding networking opportunities, and opportunities for serious one-on-one business meetings with potential new business partners.
While other large conference events focus on broad policy, socio-cultural, and academic issues and projections, the Forum has been and is a strictly business event. The previous three Forums have witnessed the signing of MOUs and new commercial agreements worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Saudi-U.S. Commercial Relationship
The Saudi-U.S. commercial relationship traces back to the dawn of the modern Saudi state and the birth of the Kingdom's oil industry in 1933 when Standard Oil of California (now Chevron) won a concession to explore for oil in eastern Saudi Arabia.
Since that time, the business relationship between the two countries has grown and expanded far beyond oil and gas. In the last 10 years, Saudi-U.S. trade rose from $26 billion to $74 billion. Saudi Arabia today is America's 12th largest trading partner while the U.S. is the second largest trading partner of Saudi Arabia. U.S. exports to the Kingdom in 2014 totaled $18.6 billion and major export products included passenger automobiles, trucks/buses, industrial machinery, construction/building equipment, civil aircraft, defense systems, IT, and health care products.
The U.S. also has the highest share of FDI stock in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is investing massively to enhance its value proposition to foreign investors, both with infrastructure and with reform. Energy, logistics, and knowledge-based industries are three priority sectors for investment.
The bilateral relationship is more than an exchange of products and services. Saudi Arabia sends more university students to the United States than it does to any other country in the world. In 2015, Saudi students matriculating in the U.S. numbered more than 125,000. These Saudi students are the foundation of the next generation of Saudi business and government leaders. The personal and professional ties they are developing now and their affinity for the U.S. will drive the commercial relationship forward and to greater heights for many years to come.
Strategic Importance of the Forum
- The Saudi-U.S. Business Opportunities Forum will foster, develop, and expand the strategic business alliance between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America, and contribute to the accurate depiction of the business environment in both nations.
- Government officials and business leaders from both Saudi Arabia and the United States will engage in substantive discussions on recommendations and initiatives aimed at strengthening the bilateral partnership between both nations in all economic fields.
- Participants in the Forum will receive information on the most recent developments and business opportunities in the Saudi and U.S. markets, government reforms, and up to date facts and figures on trade and investment.
- Provide information on new trade and investment opportunities in the major sectors of the Saudi and U.S. economies.
- Encourage companies of all sizes – small, medium, and large – in Saudi Arabia and the United States to establish mutually-beneficial business relationships with other companies in both nations.
- Promote the establishment of joint trade and investment projects in both nations to foster sustainable economic growth.
- Introduce recommendations and initiatives that promote strategic business relationships between stakeholders in both markets.
- Encourage the development of new business ventures and investment focused on Information and Communications Technology, Energy, Education, Healthcare, and other sectors of focus.
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