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Saudi Arabia plans to invest $600 billion in Turkey

Published:

Saudi Arabia plans to invest $600 billion in Turkey’s agricultural and manufacturing sectors in the next 20 years, said the chief executive of the National Commercial Bank.

Abdul Kareem Abu Alnasr, whose bank is the biggest Saudi lender, said that his country’s exports represent about 76 percent of the total GCC exports to Turkey, dubbing the Anatolian country as an important trade partner.

He said trade between the two has reached $5.5 billion in 2008 up from $1.3 billion in 2002 boosted by the demographic of the two countries, as both have two-thirds of their populations below the age of 30.

Turkey’s GDP for the year 2015 is expected to be $1 trillion, which would make it the 17th biggest economy worldwide, while the Saudi GDP will be the 19th at roughly $700 billion. (If oil prices stay high, then Saudi Arabia’s GDP is likely to rise.)

Because of high oil prices Mr. Alnasr said that Saudi Arabia managed to lower its debt of 80 percent of its GDP in 2003 to 15 percent in 2010.

Saudi Arabia, like many of Gulf countries, needs to deal with the issue of food security, and its investment in Turkey’s agriculture and manufacturing is set to increase, Mr. Alnasr said.

“In the agriculture space, Turkey emerged as one of the top recipients of Saudi investment, as the kingdom seeks to boost its food security,” he said.

According to a recent presentation that Mr. Alnasr made at the Turkish-Saudi Economic Forum, Planet Food World Co. will invest $3 billion in Turkish agriculture in the next five years, with the aim of exporting food products to the Gulf region, according to Bloomberg News.

The strength of Turkey’s agriculture enabled exports of farm products to Saudi Arabia to increase from $90 million in 2008 to $144 million in 2009, according to Alnasr.

Turkey has shifted its foreign policy ever since the advent of the conservative party, AKP, in 2002. The party has started to look more toward the Middle East.

(Dina Al-Shibeeb of Al Arabiya can be reached at: dina.ibrahim@mbc.net)