Saudi Arabia's Economy and Planning Minister Faisal Alibrahim is one of several Saudi officials participating in a major economic forum in China starting Tuesday, further demonstrating the strengthening of ties between Saudi Arabia and China.

The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions will take place in the northeast Chinese port city of Tianjin from Tuesday to Thursday. The event is often referred to as Summer Davos, a parallel to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland in winter. The theme of this year’s event is entrepreneurship. 

Chinese Premier Li Qiang will deliver the plenary address to more than 150 participants from nearly 90 countries, according to a press release.

Alibrahim will have a significant role at the meeting. On Tuesday, he will speak on a panel about using innovation to address food security and climate change challenges. As part of a panel on Wednesday, he will discuss global debt risks in light of elevated interest rates. On Thursday, Alibrahim will participate in a panel on cooperation between the public and private sectors, per the official schedule.

Saudi Arabia is sending 24 officials and business figures in total to the meeting. The delegation will be led by Alibrahim and Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Alswaha, according to Financial Times.

The panels in which Alibrahim will participate correspond with Saudi Arabia’s priorities. Saudi entities like ACWA Power are increasingly interested in renewable energy as the kingdom seeks to diversify away from oil and gas. Saudi state institutions such as the Public Investment Fund are also seeking to foster economic development in the kingdom. The Saudi Central Bank decided to hold firm on interest rates this month, mirroring the decision by the US Federal Reserve.

Other speakers from the Middle East at the Annual Meeting of the New Champions include Cevdet Alemdar, president of Turkish industrial conglomerate Sabanci Holding, and Meirav Oren, founder of the Israeli AI firm Versatile.

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia has significant energy and trade relations with China. The kingdom was China’s second-largest oil supplier at the start of the year, before dropping to number two behind Russia. China is also Saudi Arabia’s top trading partner.

Ties between the two countries are expanding. Earlier this month, Riyadh hosted the Arab-China Business Conference, resulting in more than $10 billion in deals. The agreements covered a variety of sectors, including electric vehicles, industry, mining, railways and tourism.

Saudi Arabia also attended the BRICS meeting in South Africa in early June, an alliance composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa that seeks to offer a geopolitical alternative to the West. 

The Financial Times reported in May that Saudi Arabia is in discussions to join BRICS’ New Development Bank. The bank’s chairwoman, former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, delivered the keynote address at the Arab-China Business Conference.  

Though the Saudi-China relationship is largely driven by economics, political ties are also strengthening. In March, China brokered the agreement whereby Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to resume diplomatic relations.

Know more: Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser participated in the Energy Asia conference in Malaysia on Monday. During the event, Nasser said the oil market’s fundamentals are “sound” due to demand from China as well as India, Reuters reported.

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