Posts Tagged ‘Saudi Arabia’

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Upcoming Trade Mission Highlights Key U.S. Economic Partnerships

January 13, 2014

Headshot of Danny Sebright, President of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council.

Danny Sebright is President of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council.

The Middle East is an excellent regional market for U.S. companies looking for opportunities overseas. U.S. merchandise exports to the region have grown by more than 50 percent since 2009, totaling $69.6 billion in 2012.

To help American companies achieve further success in the region, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is leading a business development mission to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to help American companies learn about potential opportunities and make important contacts with business and government leaders.

We spoke with Danny Sebright, President of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, to get perspective on our important economic relationship with the U.A.E. and the Middle East as a whole. The Council is committed to the advancement of the commercial relationship between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, and it has made trade and foreign direct investment one of its key priorities in its advocacy efforts.

ITA: It looks like trade between the United States and the United Arab Emirates has risen pretty dramatically since 2010 – exports to the U.A.E. have almost doubled and imports from the UAE have more than doubled. Are there any specific catalysts for that trend? Do you expect continued growth?

Sebright: This rise began even before 2010, with the U.A.E. serving as the largest export market for U.S. goods and services in the broader Middle East, from Marrakesh to Bangladesh, for the last five years running. U.S.-U.A.E. trade, expected to exceed 2012’s record of nearly $25 billion in bilateral commerce, is a key contributor to President Obama’s National Export Initiative – launched in 2010 – and the Emirati leadership’s active and visionary efforts to diversify the federal economy and open U.A.E.’s corporate climate to increased foreign direct investment. The economic and trade relationship between the United States and United Arab Emirates has grown exponentially and solidified itself as a key pillar driving commercial and diplomatic engagement thanks in part to an active public sector and industry efforts. As a result, the U.A.E. is largely appreciated as a crucial destination, transit point, and supply chain link for America’s global businesses.

ITA: Are there any specific sectors that should be especially appealing for U.S. businesses in the U.A.E. and in the Middle East?

Sebright: The U.A.E.’s global position as a crossroads for business, trade, and travel has risen dramatically in recent years, with the U.S. playing a significant commercial role in delivering cutting-edge technology, industry thought leadership, and world-class infrastructure to the Emirates. This growth is a direct result of the country’s plans to position the U.A.E. as a global commercial hub by executing ambitious economic development and diversification goals across the industrial spectrum. A few key sectors highlighted in these comprehensive plans that present a wealth of opportunities for U.S. industry include: Infrastructure Development & Green Build; Energy Development (Renewable, Nuclear, Oil & Gas); Aerospace, Defense, Security; Civil and Commercial Aviation; Media, Tourism and Culture; Healthcare and Medicine; and Education.

ITA: What are some challenges for American businesses seeking opportunities in the U.A.E.?

Sebright: The governments of both countries are actively working hand-in-hand with private industry to open the doors for increased U.S.-U.A.E. trade and business – effectively tackling many new and traditional challenges along the way. The biggest challenges for American companies include: navigating the corporate and regulatory landscape of the U.A.E. before setting up shop, conducting thorough due diligence to establish necessary connections with a local partner in the U.A.E., and appreciating the cultural differences between an American boardroom and an Emirati one. Thankfully, turnkey services provided by the Commerce Department and other U.S. agencies geared toward promoting trade and investment are readily available. I would also encourage U.S. firms to plug-in to industry groups like the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council to learn more about opportunities and utilize as a resource when issues arise that affect business practices.

ITA: For businesses interested in infrastructure opportunities in the U.A.E. and Middle East, how will this trade mission help them take advantage of the opportunities available? What are the advantages of working with the Department of Commerce and partner organizations like the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council?

Sebright: It is truly an incredible time for U.S. infrastructure companies looking to do business in the U.A.E. and broader Middle East region – where market-driven consumer demand for world-class infrastructure is rising and opportunities abound. Let me first focus on opportunities in the Emirates. The nation’s leadership has committed hundreds of billions of dollars to airport expansion projects; the development of a federal multi-modal rail system in the U.A.E. set to ultimately link to neighboring countries; boost production from an active and diverse energy grid; and fund ongoing nation-wide road, clean water, and other infrastructure initiatives underway to drive economic growth. The recent awarding of World Expo 2020 hosting duties to Dubai will only cement these efforts. Preparations necessary for Dubai and the U.A.E. to host Expo 2020 are expected to require $500 billion in additional infrastructure investment, directly create approximately 250,000 local jobs, and boost federal efforts to increase global tourism traffic to the Emirates to 20 million by 2020.

In the broader region, commercial globalization and domestic economic development initiatives centered on building new hospitals, educational institutions, and energy diversification projects are creating opportunities for American businesses to bring knowledge and technology to the market. In Qatar, the country is focused on building world class infrastructure to support the 2022 World Cup. In Saudi Arabia, the leadership is focused on providing education and jobs for an increasingly youthful population, nearly 60 percent of whom are under the age of 24.

ITA: Is there any one piece of advice you’d offer to a business looking for opportunities in the U.A.E.?

Sebright: It is important for representatives of American industry operating, or looking to operate, in the U.A.E. to understand and appreciate that most transactions or corporate partnerships develop only after a personal rapport and a clear commitment to the Emirati partner and consumer has been established. In the U.A.E., the prevailing view is that a deal is only as good as the person, or people selling it.

ITA: What would you tell a business that hasn’t considered the U.A.E. as a potential export market?

Sebright: The U.A.E. provides an open corporate environment for American firms to conduct regional and global business in line with international standards and best practices. On top of that, the U.A.E. is centrally located within an eight hour flight of 60% of the world’s key emerging markets, developing local capacity to link up to many of the world’s supply chains, and actively looking to the U.S. as a key commercial and trade partner. Both stable and lucrative, the U.A.E. is a primed business destination with immense potential yet to be tapped.

ITA: Why is the U.S. economic relationship with the U.A.E. and the Middle East region so important?

Sebright: The economic relationship between the U.S. and U.A.E., in particular, is founded in mutual respect and complements close strategic ties formed over years of supporting global efforts to maintain regional security and political stability. U.S. economic engagement with the broader Middle East is incredibly important because the development and cultivation of a successful commercial relationship can boost diplomatic efforts already in motion to establish wider cultural understanding between key consumers and global citizens. Much of the recent political turbulence in the region has been intrinsically linked to communities featuring disenfranchised youth with few economic prospects or opportunities. As the U.A.E. has exemplified, political stability and economic stability go hand in hand.

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Secretary Pritzker to Lead Business Development Mission to Middle East

December 12, 2013

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will lead a senior-executive Business Development Mission to the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar March 8-14, 2014.

The trade mission is critical to building on export growth and furthering the Obama Administration’s efforts to help U.S. businesses compete and succeed in the global economy. It is also an important component of the Department of Commerce’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which prioritizes trade and investment.

This mission will highlight export opportunities for U.S. businesses in three leading industry sectors with an emphasis on project management and engineering (including construction, architecture and design), renewable energy (solar, wind, waste-to-energy), smart grid and energy efficiency, and environmental technologies (including water/wastewater; air pollution control; and waste management).

Participating U.S. companies will meet with prescreened potential partners, agents, distributors, representatives, and licensees.  The agenda will also include meetings with high-level national and local government officials, networking opportunities, and country and industry briefings.

Connecting U.S. businesses with opportunities in new markets is a fundamental to the mission of the Department of Commerce and its ‘Open for Business Agenda. This is a particularly exciting time to be looking toward the Middle East and countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar as a destination for U.S. exports, especially in the infrastructure sector. Exports now support nearly 10 million U.S. jobs, up 1.3 million since 2009.

Businesses interested in participating in the upcoming business development mission, please visit the mission website to apply.

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Saudi Arabia’s Electricity Market

February 29, 2012

Jennifer Derstine and Kira West work in the Office of Energy and Environment within the Manufacturing and Services division of the International Trade Administration

Saudi Arabia’s electricity market is growing rapidly, and will provide significant opportunities U.S. exports. Rising incomes and a growing population are driving both increases in electricity consumption and investment in energy-efficient transmission and distribution infrastructure. Additionally, high levels of solar radiation make the Saudi market a potential area of growth for solar energy technology and services.

Saudi Arabian Solar Radiation Station Maintenance

Saudi Arabian Solar Radiation Station Maintenance (Courtesy of DOE/NREL)

Other market drivers include the Saudi government’s goals of reducing reliance on fossil-fuel use for power generation, increasing reliability and efficiency of the electric grid, integrating solar energy generation, and achieving efficiency gains in residential, commercial, and industrial energy consumers. In April, Assistant Secretary Nicole Lamb-Hale will lead a Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia to help U.S. exporters benefit from the opportunities in this growing market.

The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), which is majority owned by the Saudi government, owns the transmission and distribution infrastructure and most generation capacity in Saudi Arabia. In 2007, SEC also opened the market to independent power producers (IPP), offering 20-year power purchase agreements for power generation projects. The Electricity and Co-Generation Regulatory Agency (ECRA), one of three government entities that oversees the electricity sector, has long-term plans to deregulate the electricity market, separating generation, transmission, and distribution networks and introducing private competition.

SEC’s transmission and distribution network has seen considerable investment over the last decade, with SEC expanding the network by more than 50 percent since 2000. SEC also invested in energy efficiency technology, deploying 12,000 electric meters equipped with automated reading and variable rate systems in 2010.

However, the Saudi electric grid suffers from above average transmission losses, so investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure and energy efficiency technologies will remain high. Investment in the distribution system in Saudi Arabia is predicted to reach $24 billion over the next decade, and SEC has plans to further expand the transmission network within the country and to create new interconnections between GCC states.  U.S. exporters will see a wide range of opportunities in green building, smart grid, and energy efficiency technologies.

In order to support its goals of reducing oil and gas power generation, the Saudi government is also prioritizing solar energy deployment. Saudi Arabia has sufficient solar resources to meet a large portion of its growing electricity demand, and the Saudi government envisions both PV and CSP solar technologies will play a role in solar development. U.S. companies will find opportunities in this sector in consulting and engineering services for design, construction and management, as well as supplying solar technology and equipment.

More detailed information about the Saudi electricity market and opportunities for U.S. exporters is available in the Market Intelligence Brief.

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U.S. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia

February 7, 2012

April 14–18, 2012
U.S. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia
Riyadh and Dhahran (Eastern Province), Saudi Arabia

In April, Assistant Secretary Nicole Lamb-Hale will lead a Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia. The mission will include market briefings by industry experts, opportunities for U.S. firms to meet key Saudi Arabian government officials and decision-makers, hold one-on-one meetings with potential business partners, and enjoy networking events, with the goal of increasing U.S. exports in the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors.

SolarTAC test facility in Aurora, CO (Courtesy of DOE/NREL)

SolarTAC test facility in Aurora, CO (Courtesy of DOE/NREL)

The mission comes at a critical time for both Saudi Arabia and the U.S. clean energy and energy efficiency industry, and has the potential to create opportunities for U.S. exporters while helping Saudi Arabia to achieve its energy goals.

Saudi Arabia has ambitious plans to improve energy efficiency and reduce reliance on hydrocarbons for power generation.  These plans offer abundant opportunities for U.S. companies to export American technologies, products, and services.

While Saudi Arabia possesses one-fifth of global oil reserves, it meets almost 60% of its domestic power needs from petroleum.  The eight to nine percent annual growth in domestic electricity demand – and thus domestic petroleum consumption –  cuts deeply into exports.  The Saudi Government heavily subsidizes domestically-used oil, which causes not only  reduced export income, but also has enormous opportunity costs as there is less feedstock for development of downstream petrochemical industries and the jobs that go with them.

Saudi Arabia hopes to reduce by half the crude oil and natural gas it burns now to generate electricity, in part by developing solar power capacity, an area where it has clear climatological advantages. As part of its plan for reducing fossil fuel dependence, the Saudi Government aims to install 5 GW of solar power by 2020.

As Saudi Arabia expands its energy supply and integrates renewable energy, further investment will be required in grid modernization and smart grid technologies that enable utility management of variable energy sources. Firms participating in the trade mission will gain market insight, make industry contacts, solidify business strategies, and identify or advance specific projects, helping U.S. firms benefit from this growing market for their products as Saudi Arabia ramps up investment in the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors.

Both residential and industrial sectors contribute to increased electrical demand in Saudi Arabia.  Residential air conditioning consumes more than 50% of total power during Saudi Arabia’s long, hot summers.  Saudi Arabia plans to construct 1.65 million new homes over the next six years and will be looking closely at products, materials and technologies that reduce energy use and increase efficiency.

Saudi Arabia also relies on desalination plants to produce 70% of its potable water, using as much as 1.5 million barrels per day of oil equivalent to do so; Saudi Arabia hopes to start up its first solar-powered desalination plant in 2013.

This mission will target a variety of sectors that could reduce the impact of residential and industrial electricity demand, including solar power generation components and systems; smart grid systems, software and services; green building design/engineering, materials and technologies; and energy efficiency systems and solutions.

The mission will begin in Riyadh and will include site visits and consultations in Dhahran (Eastern Province), including the King Abdullah City of Atomic and Renewable Energy, the Saudi Electricity Company and Saudi Aramco. The cost to participate in the trade mission ranges from $3,020 to $3,502 per company for one representative, depending on firm size. There is a $500 fee for an additional company participant. Expenses for travel, lodging, most meals and incidentals will be the responsibility of each mission participant.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through March 1, 2012. Space is limited. For more information about the trade mission, visit the mission web site or contact Jen Derstine of Manufacturing and Services, tel.: (202) 482-3889; e-mail: jennifer.derstine@trade.gov, or James Fluker of the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service, tel.: +966 (1) 488-3800; e-mail: james.fluker@trade.gov.

Useful resources:

ITA Saudi market research
Saudi Country Commercial Guide
Archive recording of Saudi solar webinar

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Trade Mission to the Emerging Market of Saudi Arabia

June 7, 2010

Francisco J. Sánchez is the Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade

Wow.  Saudi Arabia is giving new meaning to the term “emerging market”.  I have just arrived to lead a public health trade mission here and in Qatar, and the trade and investment opportunities are incredible.  Saudi Arabia has plans to invest over 500 billion dollars in new infrastructure, health care, and education projects in the coming years, including many opportunities for the medical and water technology companies that are here with me.  Saudi Arabia not only has a friendly business climate, but the warm hospitality towards us and Americans in general has been deeply appreciated and noted by all.  I want to thank the exceptional Commercial Service team here on the ground for their efforts in developing what is clearly going to be a very successful trade mission.

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