Saudi Arabia welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump with agreements for deals worth tens of billions of dollars on Saturday as he embarked on his first state visit to the kingdom, which is undertaking unprecedented economic reforms.
Oil giant Saudi Aramco said it signed 16 accords with 11 companies valued at about $50 billion. One initial deal — worth $15 billion — was signed with General Electric Co. across the power, healthcare, oil, gas and mining industries. The U.S. and Saudi Ministry of Defense also negotiated a package totaling about $110 billion, according to a White House transcript on Friday.
“I can’t imagine another business day that’s been as good for the United States or for the kingdom,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in the Saudi capital, dismissing concern that controversy engulfing Trump’s administration at home would impact his first overseas trip as president.
Honeywell International Inc., Nabros Industries Ltd., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Lockheed Martin were among other U.S. firms to sign accords Saturday after American corporate titans met local business heads in Riyadh. The deals come as the Trump administration is promising to improve relations with Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, that were strained under President Barack Obama.
“Many of us sitting on the table are overseeing substantial investments in the United States,” Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said on a panel at the inaugural Saudi-U.S. CEO Forum that included Saudi billionaire Lubna Al-Olayan and Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan.
The kingdom’s new defense company Saudi Arabian Military Industries was also due to sign four “large deals” with leading global technology, military and industrial firms, Al-Falih said, without naming the companies.
Raytheon Co. will cooperate with SAMI, as the firm is known, on defense-related projects and technology development. It will establish Raytheon Arabia in Riyadh, the company said in a statement. SAMI was set up this month to help reduce reliance on foreign purchases and to diversify the economy away from oil.
In a rare public appearance, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, head of the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, said the fund will make announcements related to SoftBank Group Corp.’s $100 billion technology fund, as well as other partnerships. The Saudis may put as much as $45 billion into the venture, people aware of the matter said in January.
Trump’s eight-day trip will also take him to Israel and Europe. Leaders and representatives from 54 Arab and Muslim countries will also be present during his two-day stay in the kingdom, a close U.S. ally.