Concrete actions to invigorate practical cooperation between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were outlined by the two countries’ foreign ministers, Ekaterina Zaharieva and Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.
The two conferred in Riyadh within the framework of an official visit to the Kingdom by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
“We have good relations at the political level, but their potential remains completely untapped. We came to an agreement that a business delegation should visit our country to scout for investment opportunities. You know that last year they adopted a plan to diversify their investment intentions and to seek investments in all spheres. I familiarised Minister Al-Jubeir with the opportunities for investment in high technologies in Bulgaria,” Deputy Prime Minister Zaharieva said after the meeting.
The chief Bulgarian diplomat familiarised her counterpart with the highly skilled human resources (Bulgaria has the largest per capita number of IT specialists in Europe), with the progress in pharmacy, electronics and business start-ups, which attract keen financing interest from all over the world. “One in four of your car’s components has been manufactured in Bulgaria,” Minister Zaharieva told Minister Al-Jubeir.
“I can see ample investment opportunities, especially in high technologies, robotics, tourism and agriculture,” the chief Saudi diplomat said. To this end, the options offered by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund will be explored. The Fund was established in 1971 for the purpose of investing resources on behalf of the Kingdom’s Government. The Fund has a portfolio of approximately 200 investments financed by equity, loans or guarantees.
In July 2014 the Council of Ministers of Saudi Arabia enabled the Fund to finance new companies outside the Kingdom, and it is expected to become the world’s largest sovereign fund with assets worth 2 trillion US dollars. So far the Kingdom has used this instrument to finance a number of leading companies in Asia and Europe, and in May 2017, during the visit of US President Donald Trump to Riyadh, investments of 40 billion dollars over the Atlantic were unveiled.
At their meeting, the foreign ministers of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also outlined measures to intensify political contacts. Minister Al-Jubeir accepted an invitation to visit our country and, at the same time, promised full cooperation in securing a building to house the future Bulgarian embassy in Riyadh, which is due to be opened in the first half of 2018.
“We will send staff here to explore the opportunities for accommodating the diplomatic mission. Initially, we will probably rent a building. We also discussed different options, including swapping properties, because the Kingdom recently opened a building in Sofia and is renting a building,” Minister Zaharieva said.
Alongside Minister Al-Jubeir, the Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister also invited to Sofia his deputies who attended the meeting, as well as the political directors in order to launch a process of regular political consultations to catalyse bilateral relations in all spheres of mutual interest.
The two chief diplomats discussed a number of regional issues and problems on the international agenda, stressing security and counter-terrorism. The Republic of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are partners in the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and our country consistently assists the international efforts to stop financing of terrorism and prevent the flow of foreign fighters to conflict areas.