Saudi Arabia-Chicago forum to focus on trade

Posted April 28, 2010 at 11:26 a.m.

By Kathy Bergen | Saudi Arabian commerce officials will sign a series of cooperative
agreements with two U.S. corporations, as well as two Chicago
organizations, at an economic development summit under way in Chicago.

international trade committee of the Saudi Chambers of Commerce and
Industry will sign a memo of understanding today with the Chicagoland
Chamber of Commerce and World Business Chicago, agreeing to promote
economic activity between the two regions. The focus will be on
industry, trade and technology.

The goal is to help companies make connections with overseas partners, said Jerry Roper, president and chief executive officer of the Chicagoland chamber.

“It’ll be like a concierge service for business,” he said.

As well, the Chicago organizations will assist the Saudis in the establishment of an entrepreneurial center, much like the one the Chicagoland chamber operates here, Roper said.

The Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry also is expected to sign an agreement with GE International to develop new technologies and manufacturing capabilities in the conservative Middle Eastern kingdom, which is embarking on a stimulus package to kick-start job growth.

GE’s corporate headquarters are in Fairfield, CT.

The ministry also will sign a pact with Waltham, Mass.-based Raytheon Co. in an effort to tap that company’s engineering expertise and renewable energy technologies as Saudi Arabia develops manufacturing.

Though Saudi Arabia has rigidly controlled foreign investment, it is facing pressure ease regulations and woo foreign partners in order to ease unemployment.

A delegation of about 200 Saudi government and business leaders are attending this first-ever U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum at the Sheraton Chicago today and tomorrow.


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