JEDDAH:A German state minister says he finds Saudi Arabia a fertile land for initiating green projects.
Aside from the ongoing bilateral ties covering trade, investments and joint ventures with transfer of technology and training, one interesting field of cooperation that Saudis should not underestimate when thinking about Germany is that of green energy, Kurt Voigtsberger, minister of economics, energy, construction, housing and traffic of the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), told a press conference on Monday.
Germany has taken a decision to shut down 17 nuclear energy plants within the next 10 years and will definitely quit nuclear energies in the next 40 years by investing in renewable sources like photovoltaic, solar energy, biogas, wind and geothermal. Many companies are involved in the development of these technologies and this can generate a great field for international cooperation, said the minister who headed a business delegation from the NRW region, described as the one with the strongest economy not only in Germany but also in Europe. The delegation, which ended its five-day visit to Jeddah and Riyadh yesterday, aimed to further develop economic bilateral relations and find ways to actively participate in the Kingdom's industrial diversification and demand for transfer of technology and know-how.
Our region consistently contributes to determine the economic strength of the country that is the second biggest exporting country behind China with a total export of 1 trillion euros and the third biggest supplier to Saudi Arabia after US and China, explained Voigtsberger.
Twelve of the 30 largest German companies are located in NRW, a region that generates 17 percent of German exports and has a long history and expertise in key sectors such as energy efficiency, chemicals, machines, mining and telecommunications, he added.
These data highlight the importance of NRW as international economic hub and also explain the trust in German markets despite the financial markets' crisis. Locomotive of Europe, Germany, has a strong real economy due to its competitive productive industry that does not rely only on financial services but mainly on specialized small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) provided with skilled workforce.
The fruitful results coming from the cooperation between NRW and Saudi Arabia find some clear examples in the very modern facilities and efficient production structures of Henkle's factory, that Voigtsberger visited in Riyadh, a number of other world famous NRW companies such as ThyssenKrupp, Telecom and Bayer that are active in the Kingdom and the positive experience of a huge Saudi petrochemical company like the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) that invested more than 200 billion Euros in NRW.
The delegation was also accompanied by Andreas Hergenrother, a delegate from the German Industry and Commerce for Saudi Arabia and Yemen (AHK) that acts as a platform to support German and Saudi companies willing to invest in these countries, and two representatives of NRW agencies for export and investment promotion, Managing Director of NRW International Almut Schmitz and Executive Director of NRW Invest Rainer Hornig.
AHK Saudi Arabia organized last year an important conference on energy efficiency in buildings together with German companies and Saudi officials that led to the first agreement signed in the Kingdom to promote energy efficiency. This year, we will bring to Germany a delegation of Saudi decision makers to discuss the topic of energy efficiency in industrial productions, Hergenrother said.
Schmitz highlighted NRW presence in the Kingdom through a variety of sectors including that of cultural heritage. Gerber Architekten International group from NRW designed for instance the new King Fahd National Library in Riyadh and other NRW companies with high experience in technical textiles provided fireproof fabrics for the tents in Makkah.
While in Jeddah, the delegation was given a reception by German Consul General Rolf Theodor Schuster and it also had meetings with leading businessmen.
This was the 10th German delegation that comes to the Kingdom in the initial months of 2012. This year's German economic calendar also foresees the arrival of other six delegations including a visit from German Federal Minister of Traffic, Construction and Urban Development Peter Ramsauer.
On the Saudi side, a big delegation of renowned companies in the Food industry visited Cologne last October and other two business delegations will pay a visit to Germany in April.
Reproduced with permission from Arab News