Yemen and Saudi Arabia, Towards an economic partnership [Archives:2000/25/Business & Economy]

June 19 2000

Economic circles in Yemen describe the Yemeni-Saudi border treaty as a historic turning-point that will enable businessmen and investors of the two countries to draw up joint plans for investment in industrial, agricultural and marine sectors and establishment of vital projects particularly in the free zone in Aden to boost the balance of trade and increase exports of the two countries.
Yemeni businessmen believe that signing the treaty will lead to the establishment of stable relations based on confidence and trust between businessmen of the two countries as well as to an influx of agricultural products which consequently redoubles the volume of the trade balance, presently estimated at $ 200 million in a year, 50% of which tilts in favor of Saudi Arabia.
Monday’s visit of a Saudi businessmen’s delegation to Yemen headed by Ali Abdu Yamani will make an economic feasibility study of the industrial free zone of Aden.
Doors are open now to Yemeni capital in Saudi Arabia, estimated at $ 10 billion, to make partnerships with Saudi investors to invest in Yemen and this, in fact, is what Yemen has been looking for since the commencement of the economic reform program in 1995.
The Yemeni Central Bank estimates Yemeni immigrants’ capital in Saudi Arabia and other countries at $ 50 billion.
Since Yemen imports goods estimated at $ 450 million passing via Saudi Arabia, it can instead depend on Saudi industrial products and raise the trade balance with Yemen to $ 650 million a year.
In return, local as well as Saudi investors can invest in agriculture in Yemen to increase products of vegetables and fruits and export them to Saudi markets. This will improve the trade balance of the two neighboring countries.
Contrary to these optimistic attitudes about the improvement of the economic partnership between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the Yemeni labor force is attentively waiting to know what the treaty has stipulated regarding the return of Yemeni laborers to Saudi Arabia.
Since the treaty was based on the Attaif treaty signed in 1934, laborers look forward to a Saudi initiative to cancel the policy of guarantors as a main condition to employ Yemenis in Saudi Arabia.
Economists in Yemen are of the view that the border treaty would add impetus to investment and commercial relations between the two countries moving towards an advanced commercial partnership.
Mahyoob Al-Kamali