14 trade deals eyed during Saudi prince’s UK visit

British officials don’t expect a decision on who will host the IPO of state oil company Aramco

18:59 March 8, 2018

LONDON: The UK and Saudi Arabia agreed to a goal of 65 billion pounds (Dh330.5 billion) of mutual trade and investment in the coming years, with Prime Minister Theresa May’s office calling it a “vote of confidence” in the economy before Britain leaves the European Union.

The target was set at a meeting between May and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in London on Wednesday, the prime minister’s office said in an emailed statement. The prince also met Queen Elizabeth II as he embarked on a three-day visit aimed at burnishing his overseas credentials as a leader in waiting. He will also travel on to meet President Donald Trump in Washington.

The prince, who announced plans for a rapid economic overhaul and oversaw a crackdown on corruption since his appointment in June, won praise from the British prime minister for his reform programme known as Vision 2030, in particular allowing women to drive and attend sporting events.

The programme is “an ambitious blueprint for internal reform that aims to create a thriving economy and a vibrant society — conditions that we agree are essential to the kingdom’s long-term stability and success,” a spokesperson for May said in the statement.

Aramco plan

Memorandums of understanding for 14 trade deals are due to be signed during the visit, but British officials don’t expect a decision on who will host the initial public offering of state oil company Aramco. London has been vying with New York for the listing but an announcement is not imminent, according to a person familiar with plans for the visit.

Britain is Saudi Arabia’s second-biggest supplier of defence equipment and London-based based BAE Systems has been waiting for a follow-on order for the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet after the controversial Al-Yamamah sale of 72 of the warplanes in 2006. A deal would boost UK industry as Britain tightens its own defence spending.