The General Authority for Foreign Trade has organized technical meetings between the Saudi team, specialized in the third review of the Kingdom’s trade policies, chaired by the said authority, and which includes in its membership representatives of (42) governmental bodies concerned with trade and investment policies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as experts of the W.T. Organization's secretariat, through video communication over the period from 15 to 16 December 2020. This is part of a series of meetings that have been held since the beginning of the review procedures in March 2020, which will be continued for a full year.
His Excellency the Governor of the General Authority for Foreign Trade, Mr. Abdul Rahman bin Ahmed Al-Harbi, stated that the meetings aimed to clarify and inquire about some policies, information and data related to the Kingdom's trade policies subject of the review period starting from January 2016 to December 2020.
H.E. Al-Harbi added that these meetings come in preparation for holding the main meeting to review the Kingdom's trade policies at the headquarters of the World Trade Organization in Geneva during March 2021.
The mechanism for reviewing the trade policy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia covers several hubs, namely: The Economic Environment, Trade and Investment Regulations, Analysis of Trade Policy Tools, and Performance as per Specific Sectors. These articles have been included in the third appendix of the Marrakesh Agreement, established by the W.T. Organization in 1994.
The mechanism of Trade Policy Review aims to improve the member states ’adherence to the rules, regulations and obligations established under the multilateral agreements, and it is considered as an important factor to increase awareness of the Global Trading System. This mechanism addresses trade in goods and services and trade-related aspects, thus increasing transparency and ensuring that these trade policies do not affect the Multilateral Trading System (MTS).
The Trade Policy Review Process includes two reports: the “Secretariat Report” prepared by the WTO Secretariat. It is a detailed report on the member state’s trade policies and includes a summary of the principles, developments, growth and basic trends related to trade. This report refers to any possible changes in the regulations and legislations.
In addition to the “Government Report”, prepared by the government of the member state, which includes an explanation of the trade policies currently applied and it would mention the positive points that were not addressed by the Secretariat’s Report, which reflects the developments and progress made by the Kingdom during the review period in trade and investment policies, which reflected positively on the business environment and attracting investments, pointing out that these policies are consistent and work to achieve the goals of the Kingdom's Vision 2030. Among the most important developments included in the report is the cancellation of the sponsorship system, the development of customs procedures and the procedures that would attract foreign investments, besides developing an ambitious foreign trade policy for the Kingdom, aiming at diversifying exports.
It is worth mentioning that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia joined the World Trade Organization on December 11, 2005 AD, and became the member No (149). The W.T. Organization has grown to include in its membership today (164) member states, representing about 98% of the volume of the global trade. The Kingdom conducted the first trade policy review in January 2012, and the second review was conducted in April 2016.