President Tarja Halonen of Finland arrived in Jeddah last night for a three-day visit to the Kingdom. It is the first-ever official visit by a Finnish president to Saudi Arabia.
Today, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz greeted President Halonen at the royal palace with a red-carpet welcome and an honor guard review, followed by a luncheon.
During her visit to the Kingdom, President Halonen will meet with King Abdullah, Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz and other top Saudi officials on bilateral relations as well as issues such as globalization, sustainable development and environmental matters. The two countries are also expected to sign an agreement on the protection of investments.
In an interview prior to departing Helsinki, Halonen characterized Saudi Arabia as an “important” country and praised its active role in promoting peace in the Middle East and Africa. She highlighted the close economic and commercial relations between the two countries, and said that she believes they can enhance cooperation even further.
To that end, Acting Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdulmohsen Al-Akkas met with Finnish Minister of Trade and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen to review ways of boosting economic and trade relations. Al-Akkas briefed the Finnish minister on economic reforms that have improved the Saudi investment environment, and urged Finnish businessmen to increase their imports from the Kingdom.
In 2006, the volume of trade between Saudi Arabia and Finland totaled $1.18 billion [SR 4.39 billion]. Finland is among the highest exporters of mobile phones to Saudi Arabia, which in turn exports petrochemical products to Finland for the manufacturing of plastics. There are currently 13 joint Saudi-Finnish projects with capital of $443 million [SR 1.6 billion] operating in the Kingdom.