Hollande wraps up Saudi visit

December 31, 2013 - 5:42:21 am

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud (right) with French President Francois Hollande after a meeting with Saudi businessmen in Riyadh yesterday. 

RIYADH: French President Francois Hollande sought to boost trade with Saudi Arabia yesterday as he wrapped up a two-day visit to the oil-rich kingdom.

Leading a delegation of four ministers and 30 top French business figures, Hollande told a joint business gathering that France’s industries can meet Saudi needs.

“We can provide you with what you want,” he said, highlighting France’s capabilities in the energy, transport, and food sectors.

He said current bilateral trade, amounting to some ¤8bn 

($11bn) is “a lot, but not enough,” even “if this doubles in 10 years.”

French exports to Saudi Arabia in 2013 amounted to ¤3bn ($4.14bn), keeping the balance tipped in favour of Saudi Arabia on the back of its oil exports.

Hollande insisted, however, that 2013 had been a year of ‘big successes” for French companies in the Saudi market.

“Total has built the world’s largest refinery for (Saudi oil giant) Aramco, Sanofi has opened a plant to produce insulin, Veolia manages water in Riyadh and will build a desalination plant,” Hollande said. The French leader on Sunday held talks with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. AFP

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