China, Saudi Arabia strengthen ties

2023-03-29 09:39:16China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Business ties between China and Saudi Arabia have been further consolidated with industry leaders from both economies entering a number of new cooperation agreements over the past few months.

Saudi Aramco, an integrated energy and chemicals company from Saudi Arabia, is an active investment player in China. On Monday, it signed agreements with Hangzhou-based Rongsheng Petrochemical Co Ltd to acquire a 10 percent interest in Rongsheng Petrochemical of 24.6 billion yuan ($3.6 billion).

Upon this cooperation, Shenzhen-listed Rongsheng saw its price surge by the daily limit of 10 percent on Tuesday, while the benchmark Shenzhen Component Index slid 0.72 percent.

On Sunday, Saudi Aramco announced to team up with China's largest land armaments developer NORINCO Group and Panjin Xincheng Industrial Group to build an integrated refinery and petrochemical complex in Northeast China's Liaoning province.

The complex will be developed by the joint venture set up by the three companies, with NORINCO taking the majority at 51 percent and Saudi Aramco taking 30 percent.

Mohammed Y. Al Qahtani, executive vice-president of Saudi Aramco's downstream operations, said that the above cooperation marks major progress in the company's ongoing downstream expansion in China and the wider region, "which is an increasingly significant driver of global petrochemical demand".

Saudi Aramco also signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Guangdong province in Beijing on Sunday to enter into cooperation in energy, research and development, industrial projects, finance and talent exchange, among others, according to information on Guangdong province's official website.

In early March, Saudi Aramco signed a letter of intent to become a potential minority stakeholder in a new lower-emission technology-focused powertrain company, which is to be jointly established by Chinese automaker Geely and French multinational car manufacturer Renault Group.

The Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, has been investing more extensively in China in sectors other than petrochemicals.

On Feb 16, the PIF first tapped into the Chinese gaming industry by investing $265 million via its subsidy to Savvy Games Group in VSPO, the Tencent-backed esports company. Savvy Games Group has thus become the largest external investor of VSPO.

The PIF applied for a qualified foreign institutional investor license in late 2021, which indicates that the sovereign wealth fund will directly invest in China.

Innovation-driven technology companies with better growth prospects may be one major investment target for the PIF in China based on its current holdings, according to a report from Orient Securities released on March 3.

Compared to their peers in Europe and the United States, Chinese technology companies are more competitive in terms of user base and cost control. The PIF could inject more capital into these companies, enhancing their global competitiveness, according to Cao Jingnan, strategy analyst at Orient Securities.

Energy, infrastructure and manufacturing could be the three major areas churning out more opportunities regarding the cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia, with photovoltaics as one key target sector of investment, said analysts from Orient Securities.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, Saudi Arabia inked 34 investment agreements with Chinese companies during a summit in early December, with the total investment value projected to be $50 billion. The investment will cover areas of green energy, photovoltaics, information technology, cloud services and logistics, among others.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China has remained Saudi Arabia's biggest trade partner for years. The bilateral trade between the two countries surged 32.9 percent year-on-year to exceed $116 billion in 2022.


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