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US-Saudi partnership offers ‘mine' of opportunities
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 27 - 09 - 2016

THE strong and enduring partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia is the foundation of our close cooperation in matters of security, commerce, education, health, agriculture, science and technology, and many other fields. The United States values our close bilateral relationship and supports Saudi Arabia's new dynamic efforts to secure a more peaceful and prosperous future for its people and the entire region.
The United States applauds Saudi Arabia's leaders for launching a historic and ambitious socioeconomic transformation plan under Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP), and commends the effort to diversify the Kingdom's economy and reduce its dependence on oil. The diversification of Saudi Arabia's economy will also create millions of jobs for its people, particularly the women and youth of the Kingdom. As a key strategic and economic partner of Saudi Arabia, the United States is committed to assisting the Kingdom in achieving these objectives. President Obama reaffirmed that commitment in his meeting at the White House with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman last June. As part of this commitment, the US government is developing an economic engagement plan to support the Saudi government in translating its Vision 2030 and NTP aspirations into reality. My country has a great deal of proven experience in actualizing transformative socioeconomic development plans, including what works and what does not work. We are eager to share our "best practices" and "lessons learned" — some of which we learned the hard way. We are also looking very carefully to ensure that some elements of Vision 2030 and the NTP do not have the unintended consequences of discouraging foreign firms from investing in the Kingdom.
One envisioned element of the US-Saudi economic engagement plan is to assist the Kingdom to diversify its economy by developing its mining sector, hailed as the "third pillar" of the Saudi economy after oil and petrochemicals. Developing the mining sector as a strong pillar of economic growth and job creation is front and center in Saudi Arabia's national development plan. The Kingdom has discovered more than 40 commercially important minerals across the country, including significant deposits of phosphate, bauxite, tantalum, gold, silver, zinc, copper, magnesite, and kaolin. Opportunities exist for companies specialized in all aspects of the mining industry, including in geological, geophysical and geochemical work. The potential for collaboration is high in mineral extraction and processing; environmental, health and safety standards; infrastructure development; mining equipment acquisition; and education and training.
In recognition of the importance of the mining sector to Vision 2030 and the NTP and the opportunities it creates for deepening our economic ties, my team has arranged to bring a delegation of Saudi public and private mining sector leaders to participate in the 2016 "MinExpo" in Las Vegas, Nevada, from Sept. 26-28, 2016. MinExpo, which takes place every four years, is the premier forum for bringing US and foreign mining companies together to explore mutually beneficial business opportunities. The time of this important expo is fortuitous as it follows on the heels of the launch of the NTP. I am confident that the expo will provide a unique opportunity not only for building on existing business-to-business relations in the mining sector, but also for creating strategic partnerships to help Saudi Arabia achieve its Vision 2030 and NTP objectives. I believe such strategic partnerships throughout the mining spectrum will pay long-term dividends through the facilitation of transfer of knowledge, skills, and technology. I am quite excited by the opportunities MinExpo 2016 offers for our mutual benefit and look forward to leading a delegation of Saudi leaders and executives there at the end of this month.
We expect to lead similar delegations from others sectors of the Saudi economy to the United States in the coming year, including those engaged in power generation and development of renewable energy. We also plan to organize and bring to Saudi Arabia high-level safety and security and power tech trade missions in November 2016 and March 2017, respectively.
I am confident that the enduring and multifaceted US-Saudi relationship will deepen and strengthen as we work together to achieve our shared goals in, among other areas, regional security and trade and investment.
Joseph W. Westphal is the US Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


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