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DiplomaticQuarter: EU envoy reveals bloc’s desire to boost economic links with KSA’s Asir region

RIYADH: The EU’s envoy to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday expressed the bloc’s desire to strengthen economic links with the Kingdom’s southwestern Asir region.

During a meeting with Asir Gov. Prince Turki bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz, Patrick Simonnet, who is also EU ambassador to Bahrain and Oman, highlighted the province’s tourism and environment sectors as key areas to concentrate on.

The diplomat, who was visiting the Asir region, told Arab News: “We had a fruitful first meeting with the governor and discussions focused on relations between the EU and the Kingdom as well as the Asir Vision which is spearheaded by the governor for his province.

“I conveyed the EU interest in building stronger economic links with the province through trade and investment, notably in the sectors targeted by the vision and in particular in tourism and environment,” he said.

Simonnet recently pointed out that the EU and the Kingdom shared the same forward-looking spirit, creating a dynamic partnership. He drew parallels between the European Green Deal (the EU’s sustainability initiative launched in December 2019) and the key development goals of the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan.

Speaking to Arab News in May, the envoy said: “I was very happy to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Vision 2030, with 10 years to go until full implementation.

“It’s a critical subject. I think you will hear that from all Europeans, but we truly find it a remarkable agenda, which also speaks very much to some of the aspects of the European Green Deal, which is the equivalent of Vision 2030 for Europe.”

Around 28 percent of all imports to Saudi Arabia currently come from Europe, making the EU one of the Kingdom’s main trading partners.

Clean energy production was seen by Simonnet as a particularly promising area for future trade.

“There’s great potential for hydrogen exports from Saudi Arabia to Europe at a time when we, as Europe, are trying to become cleaner in the type of fuel we consume.

“That the ambition of the Kingdom is to be one of the leading exporters of hydrogen, whether blue or green, is really very important for us. It could help us reach our own climate goals,” he added.



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