Saudi Arabia to adopt new foreign investment measure

Saudi Arabia aims to woo international investors with a new method for calculating foreign investment in alignment with G-20 economies.

Three Saudi government bodies will adopt the system – the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), the Saudi General Authority of Statistics (SGAS) and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority. The method should be in place by the end of September 2018.

According to United Nations data published in June, foreign direct investment in Saudi Arabia fell from $7.5 billion in 2016 to just $1.4 billion last year, putting it behind Oman ($1.9 billion) and Jordan ($1.7 billion).

A spokesman for the SGAS told Saudi business website Al-Maal that the new methodology would reflect the real volume of foreign investments, which he maintains have increased since the implementation of recent reforms.

According to SAGIA data, the kingdom has seen a 130% increase in the number of foreign investment licences granted during the first quarter of 2018. There were 157 compared with 68 in the same period of 2017.

In April, Saudi Arabia extended the foreign investment licences to a renewable period of up to five years from one year. Other measures to boost foreign investment include allowing 100% foreign ownership in certain sectors as well as a streamlined approval process for new business licences.

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