By ABDUL HANNAN TAGO | ARAB NEWS
Published: Mar 29, 2012 03:15 Updated: Mar 29, 2012 03:15
RIYADH: Lord Marland of Odstock, chairman of the UK Business Ambassadors’ Network, and minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, has announced his country’s willingness to offer the experience of about 4.5 million British small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for the benefit of Saudi Arabia, where such enterprises, too, play a seminal role in the Saudi economy.
Lord Marland mooted the proposal at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (RCCI’s) sub-committee for the Development of SMEs.
The partnership program was held at RCCI as part of structural reforms across the industrial sector.
The ideas for strengthening Saudi-British relations in a new field came in the wake of Saudi British Partnership for the development of SME enterprises organized by (RCCI).
RCCI Chairman Abdurahman Al-Jeraisy and a large number of SME owners as well as a selected group of British experts and their counterparts from the Saudi side were among those present.
Lord Marland said he met with the Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq Al-Rabiah and discussed matters of mutual interest with a special focus on exchange of knowledge and experience in this regard. They agreed to hold a joint forum that would analyze and diagnose in depth the challenges facing SMEs for the benefit of both parties.
The visiting official has predicted that the small enterprises in Saudi Arabia have recorded steady growth and development underlining the far-sightedness of the political leadership of this country and the role that SMEs can play on the sidelines of the large industries.
Marland cited the similarities in the challenges and characteristics of these enterprises in the two countries stating that small enterprises in Britain, the mainstay of the British economy, are facing severe challenges in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
He said there would be structural reforms to deal with the situation.
He added: “The government is also assisting SMEs in finding a way to stimulate their export promotion capacity and opening appropriate markets in addition to dealing with their situation by reduce the tax obligations and creating other financing channels, both internal and external.”
In response to a question from Arab News about the restructuring mechanism for British SMEs and where it would be carried out, Marland said it would be difficult to give a precise answer right now, since 4.5 million SMEs in Britain are distributed in all sectors — industrial, commercial, service, agricultural and others.
He pointed out that his country has succeeded in creating an economic environment conducive to the growth of small and large enterprises.
The minister hoped that Britain’s experience with SMEs could be transferred to Saudi Arabia through the recommendations that come out of the current workshop.
It will be an ambitious new program of community partnership and exchange of experience and expertise among small enterprises in Britain and Saudi Arabia for the benefit of economies in both countries, which will support the close historical relations between the two countries.
Al-Jeraisy said the upcoming workshop was aimed at activating the Saudi British Partnership Program for the development of SMEs enterprises, so as to find the best means to address the challenges facing the sector in Saudi Arabia.
He said SMEs, which constitute more than 90 percent of the business establishments in the Kingdom, are the backbone of the economy, both in terms of business and employment opportunities.
He reaffirmed that RCCI was keen on developing SMEs, especially in providing advisory services to the owners of SMEs who could gain from the experience of successful enterprises in the field. It would also help them offer advisory services to SMEs willing to expand their existing projects.
He said they had already started conducting research, including field and scientific studies, to diagnose the exact nature of the problems and challenges faced by these enterprises.
These initiatives reflect the growing interest and serious efforts by the Government of Custodian the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, represented by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry working to develop the sector of small and medium enterprises.
According to the organizer, the event has included three workshops highlighting Saudi and British SMEs in the environmental field as well as proper planning for the growth of SMEs businesses. The focus of last workshop was on human resources development.