Daily Management Review

Street Protests Greet A Multibillion Dollar Trade Alliance Between The U.K And Saudi Arabia


03/08/2018




Economic and investment partnership was launched by U.K.’s prime minister and Saudi Arabia's crown prince which is valued at billions of dollars even as the move was protested by human rights organizations in London. There was also political pressure in the U.K. parliament.
 
Saudi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the British PM was hosting the inaugural meeting of the "U.K.-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council" at Downing Street. The council is trade and investment agency that aims to secure deals worth billions of dollars between the countries. 
 
"The meeting agreed a landmark ambition for around £65 billion ($90.3 billion) of mutual trade and investment opportunities over the coming years, including direct investment in the U.K. and new Saudi public procurement with U.K. companies," a Downing Street spokesperson said in a press release.
 
"This is a significant boost for U.K. prosperity and a clear demonstration of the strong international confidence in our economy as we prepare to leave the European Union."
 
The Saudi crown prince has already established himself as a moderate face of Islam in the kingdom. It is under his leadership that the kingdom has a series of cultural and economic reforms and has launched a plan to change the economy of the country from dependence on oil through what is now known as the Vision 2030 plan.
 
Despite some historic changes such as granting permission to women for attending sporting events and allowing women to drive cars, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is still seen as a country where there is limited human rights and a regime that is essentially repressive.
 
The relationship between the U.K. and Saudi Arabia is however a long standing one with close ties between the royal families of the two kingdoms. The trade relationship between the economies also date back to a long period. According to the Saudi British Joint Business Council, trade elements between the countries include power-generating equipment, food, medical equipment and transport equipment in addition to trade of arms – the most well-known trade product between them. 
 
The statement from Downing Street said that the prime minister pledged its support "to progress and intensify these reforms, particularly on women's rights, and on universal human rights," and lauded the Saudi's "ambitious reform program".
 
Financial and investment services, training and skills and education re among the sectors that would be included in the "new investment and procurement opportunities" under the Strategic Partnership Council initiative.
 
The program would also present business opportunities in the areas of "culture and entertainment, health care services and life sciences, technology and renewable energy and the defence industry", the spokesperson said.
 
But the most debated element of the trade relationship between the two countries is the defense industry.
 
The announcement carried with it an expected level of opposition both on the streets of London and the British parliament. The bombing of Yemen by Saudi Arabia and the sale of arms to the kingdom by the U.K. were protested against by hundreds of protesters outside of Downing Street. Yemen has turned out to be a country for a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia and Yemen is going through a terrible civil war resulting in a terrible humanitarian disaster.
 
Protesters shouted slogans like "Hands off Yemen — stop the bombing now" and claimed that U.K should not have invited the Saudi crown prince.
 
(Source:www.cnbc.com)






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