Trade Policy

Saudi Arabia is the largest free market economy in the Middle East and North Africa holding approximately 25 percent share of the total Arab GDP.  The Kingdom's geographic location provides easy access to export markets in Europe, Asia, and Africa.  Saudi Arabia possesses a solid distribution network.  The business centers of Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam/Al-Khobar/Dhahran have international airports served by a variety of international airlines with passenger and cargo capabilities.

On January 1, 2003, the GCC formally instituted its Customs Union.  A five percent common external tariff now applies to imported products while goods of local origin may freely move within the GCC. The GCC is moving forward with its plan for greater economic integration

Saudi Arabia is also a member party in the following regional organizations and agreements:

  • African Development Bank

  • Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa

  • Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development

  • Arab Gulf Program for United Nations Development Organization

  • Arab Monetary Fund

  • Gulf Cooperation Council

  • League of Arab States

  • Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries

  • Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia

  • Islamic Development Bank

Historically, Saudi Arabia has been one of the world's largest foreign aid donor countries, but in recent years has faced increasing demands to fund domestic security, infrastructure development and social programs at home.  The Kingdom manages contributions to international aid projects through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) and the Ministry of Finance.  The SFD handles long-term development programs and the Ministry of Finance handles grants and immediate assistance needs. In recent years, aid has shifted from direct grants toward concessional loans and in-kind assistance.  In an effort to promote trade-based aid, the government established the Saudi Export Program (SEP) in 2001 to help diversify the economy and increase Saudi exports.

An important element of Saudi Arabia's economic reform program is its membership in the World Trade Organization.  Membership in the WTO brings a wide range of benefits to Saudi Arabia.  Removal of protectionist barriers, placing ceilings on tariffs, opening further key services sectors to foreign participation and improving intellectual property rights protection will create an open, transparent and rules-based trade regime.  The resulting enhanced competition will introduce new efficiencies and growth prospects to the economy and attract capital from both foreign and domestic investors.

Marketing foreign Products and Services
The Saudi Government's reform agenda continues in an effort to diversify the economy away from its almost complete dependence on the petroleum sector, to attract foreign investors.  The Saudi Government is pressing ahead to encourage the private sector to take the lead in the country's economic development.  The Government, for its part, has passed numerous laws and regulations to facilitate and entice investments.