Saudi Arabia is Australia’s 31st largest trading partner and second largest export destination in the Middle East behind the UAE. Australian merchandise exports to Saudi Arabia were worth US$1.6b in 2016, and include passenger cars and meat. Saudi Arabia was the largest market for Australian motor vehicle exports, with the likes of Toyota Australia and Holden answering demand. But the closure of Ford, Holden and Toyota will eliminate vehicle exports.
Australia is Saudi Arabia’s 8th largest source of agricultural imports, but there is scope for Australian firms to gain greater market share, particularly as the expanding middle class start to demand higher quality proteins and grains. Saudi Arabia’s solid population growth, projected at 1.5% p.a. over the next decade, will present further opportunities for Australian firms involved in dairy, animal feed, beef and sheep farming.
Australia exported A$315m of services in 2016, most of which were education related. Tertiary education accounts for the lion’s share of Saudi student enrolments funded mainly by the King Abdullah Scholarship program. Though, Saudi student enrolments have been on a downward trend over the last six years.
Bilateral investment between Australia and Saudi Arabia is minuscule, but growing. Saudi Arabia’s push to develop agriculture could benefit Australian firms with the knowhow, while large scale infrastructure developments and an increasing push into precious and base metal mining will pave the way for Australian contractors and engineering firms.