Saudi Minister of Commerce & Trade to Lead High-level Trade Delegation at Accenta 2011 in Belgium
Saudi Arabia to partake as Guest of Honour at Europe's largest trade fair being held under the patronage of H.M. the King of Belgium
H.E. Abdullah bin Ahmad Zainal, Saudi Minister of Commerce and Industry, will visit Belgium with a high-level delegation of Saudi business leaders to strengthen mutual trade ties. The delegation will meet with leading Belgian politicians and the European Commissioner for Trade during the 'Saudi-European Economic Forum' at the opening of Belgium's Accenta 2011 trade fair on 10 September. Accenta attracts over 400 exhibitors and 90,000 visitors annually and will be held in Ghent's Flanders Expo from 10-18 September, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be this year's official Guest of Honour.
The visit of the Ministerial delegation highlights the growing bilateral trade relations between Belgium and Saudi Arabia which are getting stronger year on year. In 2010 Saudi exports to Belgium surpassed € 1.27 billion, an increase of 60% on the previous year. Belgium's exports to Saudi Arabia exceeded € 1.03 billion, an increase of 10% on the previous year. The lion's share of Saudi imports from Belgium were diamonds from Antwerp, the diamond capital of Europe and the continent's second largest port.
To underscore the importance of Saudi's trade relationship with Belgium, and in recognition of Belgium's role as a key European Union member state, the 'Saudi-European Economic Forum' will be held in Ghent on the first day of Accenta 2011. High-level speakers at this conference will include H.E. Karel de Gucht, European Commissioner for Trade, H.R.H. Prince Turki Al Faisal, former Saudi Ambassador to the UK and United States, and H.E. Professor Herman De Croo, Belgian Minister of State and former President of the Federal Parliament of Belgium. The Saudi Minister of Commerce and Industry, H.E. Abdullah bin Ahmad Zainal, will deliver the keynote speech at the Forum.
Accenta 2011 and the 'Saudi-European Economic Forum' will serve as a platform for business-to-business exchanges and will also highlight the dramatic advances Saudi Arabia has made in diversifying its economy over recent years. It has established market leading manufacturers across numerous sectors including finance, agriculture, petrochemicals, telecoms, food and furniture production.
Saudi's pre-eminent position in the petroleum sector has tended to overshadow many of the extraordinary industrial success stories the country has achieved in recent years. Given its status as one of the largest and longest running consumer trade fairs in Europe, Belgium's Accenta 2011 will be a magnificent showcase for Saudi Arabia's strong and increasingly diversified industrial and manufacturing sectors.
Many of the Kingdom's largest industrial organizations are scheduled to participate in Accenta 2011. Saudi exhibitors include: Al Sorayai Trading and Industrial Group, Al Abdullatif Industrial Investment Company, PetroRabigh, Saudi-Aramco, Saudi Pharmaceutical Industries and Medical Appliances Corporation (SPIMACO), SABIC, The Savola Group, The National Petrochemical Industrial Co. (NATPET), Al Watania Plastics, Etmar Dates, Zamil Chem Plast.
A number of key government institutions active in the business sector will also be featured at Accenta, including the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Culture and Information, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, the Saudi Industrial Property Authority (MODON), the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu which manages two of the Kingdom's world-class industrial cities, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and the Saudi Export Program.
Accenta 2011 will also highlight the thriving business environment which Saudi Arabia offers. The World Bank now ranks the Saudi Kingdom 11th among the world's easiest places to do business. This is a 56 place jump from 2005 and a striking demonstration of the far-reaching and effective reforms undertaken under the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz. The multi-faceted reform strategy is well on its way to achieving its goal of making the Saudi Kingdom among the top 10 competitive economies worldwide. Moreover, despite robust public spending the Saudi Kingdom's real GDP is expected to grow by a healthy 7% in 2011 and its fiscal surplus is expected to rise by 12%.
Importantly, Saudi Arabia's participation as the first Arab Guest of Honour at Accenta, a distinguished consumer trade fair and a European institution which is now 66 years old, is a strong indication of the close and long-standing economic ties between Belgium and Saudi Arabia. Europe has been a natural and sustained trading partner ever since the Saudi Kingdom was founded and, as the relationship with Belgium reveals, trade synergies are only increasing.