RIYADH (RAHNUMA): Foreign direct investment in Saudi Arabia rose to $4.6 billion in 2019, according to the World Investment Report 2020 published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. For a second consecutive year the figure increased by 7 percent, which is more than three times the level of growth recorded in 2017.
The report, published on June 16, confirms an upward trend indicated by investor license figures released last month by Invest Saudi. These revealed a 19 percent increase in the number of licenses granted by the Kingdom in the first three months of this year compared with the same period last year.
The annual World Investment Report analyzes trends in foreign direct investment around the world, at regional and national levels. The latest edition revealed that Saudi Arabia is one of the top destinations for foreign direct investment in the West Asia region, and accounted for a majority of regional inflows before the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic began to have an effect.
The report identified improvements to the business environment in Saudi Arabia as a key driver of annual growth. In particular it highlighted a number of the economic reforms last year as improving the overall ease of
“We are delighted to see in this latest edition that Saudi Arabia’s efforts to distinguish itself as a global investment destination of choice, by implementing an extensive program of pro-business reforms, has resulted in yet another positive uptick in the amount of FDI coming into the Kingdom in 2019,” said Dr. Ayedh Al-Otaibi, deputy for investment climate at the Saudi Ministry of Investment (MISA).
“Saudi Arabia continued to see this encouraging pattern of growth in the first quarter of 2020, with strong month-by-month increases in the number of international companies setting up in the Kingdom recorded in Jan. and Feb. However, as the economic effects of COVID-19 began to be felt in March, we found that growth began to slow.”
UNCTAD forecasts that the global health crisis caused by the pandemic will continue to have an unprecedented effect on international foreign direct investment flows, and predicts an overall decline of 40 percent this year and next. The report emphasizes that investment has a key role to play in countering the long-term developmental impact of the pandemic on national economies.
The UN trade body also assessed national economic responses to COVID-19, and identified policy recommendations and best practices by investment promotion agencies. MISA’s COVID-19 Response Center (MCRC) was cited as an example of global best practice among efforts by IPAs to mitigate the financial effects of the pandemic on the private sector.