WTO entry to hit Saudi companies

JEDDAH — Many Saudi companies will have to either enter into partnerships with foreign companies or merge with other companies to avoid facing bankruptcy following the kingdom's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), according to an economist.

By From Our Correspondent

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Published: Fri 4 Nov 2005, 11:02 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 5:13 PM

Dr Muhammad Al Kahtani, an economist, expects that many Saudi companies will face huge losses after the kingdom joins the WTO, the Arabic daily Al Madina reported him as saying on Monday.

Al Kahtani said that the insurance and the agriculture sector would suffer the most. He said that Saudi companies and institutions in the financial sector will find themselves in difficulties when they face American companies and will be unable to compete. The Saudi companies will either have to enter into partnerships with foreign companies, merge with other companies or face bankruptcy.

Al-Kahtani admitted that there were problems in the insurance sector. “We do not have insurance companies but only one licensed company. From an economic perspective, there should be complete government support for the insurance sector in preparation for American companies that will enter the Saudi market. These companies have great experience in the insurance sector,” he said.

He pointed out that the kingdom must train people to work in the insurance sector and open colleges specialising in insurance and graduating well-qualified people.

Regarding the agriculture sector, he said: “With the exception of some areas in the south and northwest, the kingdom is not an agricultural country. I think the country should focus on the industrial sector. If Saudis want to invest in agriculture, they should look at possibilities in countries such as Syria and Sudan. The government should establish a body that looks for places abroad where Saudis can invest; the body should also look at the Arab and Islamic world," he added.

As for banks, he said that the total money in all Arab banks combined does not match that of the seventh largest bank in the world. He said: “We have to keep in mind that big banks are watching and waiting for the moment to enter the market. As for the communication sector, I think we need at least ten more companies to compete in this sector because it is growing. In transportation, I do not think that Saudi companies will lose in this sector because it belongs to foreign companies.”

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