RIYADH — Foreign direct investment flows to Saudi Arabia increased for the second consecutive year by a further 7 percent to $4.6 billion or more than three times the level recorded in 2017, according to a recently released report by the United Nations' trade body, the UN Conference on Trade and Development.
According to the report issued annually by the organization on foreign direct investment trends around the world, Saudi Arabia formed one of the main destinations for foreign direct investment in the West Asia region, as it captured the majority of inflows regionally last year and early this year before the current economic downturn caused by the coronavirus epidemic.
The report identified improvements in the business environment in the Kingdom as a major driver of this annual growth and highlighted a number of economic reforms that have been carried out last year that had a positive impact on improving the ease of doing business in the country.
The UNCTAD report also included an assessment of the performance of national economies in the face of the pandemic and their responses to reduce the negative effects. It also identified policies and standards for best practices by investment promotion agencies (IPA), highlighting the COVID-19 Response Center (MCRC) of the Ministry of Investment as an example of global best practices in mitigating the financial impact of the pandemic on the private sector.
Commenting on the report, Ayed Al-Otaibi, deputy governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority for Development of the Investment Environment, praised the positive data in the report, attributing it to the great efforts made by the Kingdom's government and comprehensive reforms programs undertaken that contributed effectively to the positioning of the Kingdom as an attractive destination for global investments. He said that the volume of foreign direct investment in the Kingdom increased significantly during the year 2019 and the beginning of 2020 before the economic and commercial movement worldwide was affected by the repercussions of the pandemic.
Referring to the praise of the MCRC as an example of global best practices, Al-Otaibi pointed to the center established by the Ministry of Investment since the beginning of the crisis and is one of the important indicators of the full seriousness with which the ministry facilitates the process of investment.
It is worth mentioning that the Ministry of Investment recently issued its quarterly report on investment developments, and announced that it issued 348 licenses for foreign investment during the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 19 percent over the same period of 2019, and 20 percent over the last quarter of last year, while the movement of investment activity slowed down in the aftermath of the pandemic.
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