Saudi Arabia Announces $10B Deals at China-Arab Business Summit

    Saudi Arabia Announces $10B Deals at China-Arab Business Summit
    Last updated Jun 12, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


    • Investment deals worth $10B were signed between China and Arab countries on the first day of the 10th Arab-China Business Conference, which kicked off in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Sunday, according to the Saudi Ministry of Investment.
    • A deal between Saudi Arabia and Chinese electric carmaker Human Horizons to cooperate on vehicle development, production, and sales valued at $5.6B accounts for more than half of the investments, according to the state-run Saudi News Agency.
    • While an impending free trade deal between China and Gulf Cooperation Council members also featured at the two-day event, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said he would ignore Western concerns about strengthening ties between Riyadh and Beijing.
    • Trade volume between the Arab world and China — the region's largest trading partner — grew to $430B in 2022, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said on Sunday, with the kingdom accounting for 25% of total trade flows between Beijing and the Arab world.
    • The Arab-China Business Conference, hosted for the first time by Saudi Arabia, aims to strengthen cooperation in areas ranging from trade and technology to clean energy and expand the strategic partnership, including through the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
    • The event comes days after US Sec. of State Antony Blinken wrapped up a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, saying Washington is "not asking anyone to choose between the United States and China" while highlighting the benefits of collaborating with the US.


    Pro-establishment narrative

    It would be too simplistic to interpret the Sino-Arab business summit as yet another indication that the Arab world is increasingly pivoting toward China at the expense of the US. Blinken recently succeeded in putting US ties with Riyadh back on a solid footing, despite China and disagreements over Syria and Russia. And while Saudi-Chinese trade volumes may continue to rise, Saudi investment in the US is increasing. China is emerging as a significant regional player, but Washington is rising to the challenge and will remain an influential actor — including in the security domain.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    The PRC-Arab business event once again underscores how the region, especially Saudi Arabia, is no longer letting Washington dictate the economic path it should take. The increasing shift away from the US and toward China, in addition to a growing China-Arab trade volume, was recently reflected in the readmission of Syria to the Arab League and the Beijing-brokered rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Also, Blinken's Saudi trip could not hide the West's mounting economic woes, and Saudi Arabia is well advised to seek strategic independence from Washington.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 30% chance that oil exports will account for less than 70% of Saudi Arabian exports in Q1 2024, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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