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Saudi issues 506 new foreign investment licences in H1

Riyadh – Mubasher: A total of 506 new international companies were granted investor licences during the first half (H1) of 2020, according to the new Investment Highlights Summer 2020 report issued by the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA).

The figures came after a 20% year-on-year (YoY) growth in the first quarter (Q1) was followed by a 47% YoY decline in Q2 as the global economy was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in April and May.

However, the number of investor licences accelerated in June, which accounted for nearly half of all licences issued in the quarter, posting a 23% annual hike.

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Moreover, economic activity started to increase towards the end of Q2 as the kingdom cautiously lifts some lockdown measures.

According to official data, point of sale (POS) transactions saw a positive 78.5% yearly jump in June to a record level of $9.9 billion, following sharp declines in May and April. Similarly, investments by newly licensed industrial factories totalled $581 million in June, following a sharp slowdown in April and May.

“We are encouraged by the resilience demonstrated by the Saudi economy in the first half of 2020. This has undoubtedly been a year of unprecedented challenges – and the path of the economy in the near term will depend on the virus,” said Minister of Investment of Saudi Arabia, Khalid Al Falih.

“The opportunity in Saudi Arabia has not changed – this is still a G20 economy that is undergoing a fundamental transformation. Today’s report highlights a number of tangible examples of how the widespread reforms being undertaken as part of Vision 2030 are unlocking significant opportunities,” he continued.

Growth in H1-20 came from long-standing strategic partners such as the US and UK, with 54 US companies and 47 UK companies awarded licenses in H1-20, and leading emerging markets, such as India with 49 companies.

MISA’s Emerging Sectors continued to see the highest number of new foreign investment projects in Q2, followed by the industrial and manufacturing and information and communications technology (ICT) sectors.

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