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Economy

France and Saudi Arabia sign contracts worth 10 billion euros

media Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (5th R) meets French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (4th L) in Riyadh, 12 October 2015. Reuters/Saudi Press Agency/Handout via Reuters

The French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, accompagnied by his Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, signed 10 billion euro worth of contracts on Tuesday with Saudi Arabia. Deals mainly concern the fields of transport, energy and aerospace.

The 10 billion deal includes accords, contracts and letters of intent between the two countries whose economic and political ties have been strengthening in the fields of aerospace and military contracts on behalf of Airbus, transport, energy, health and food markets with French companies.

“About 30 patrol boats should be ordered before the end of the year”, said the Prime Minister’s office.

A deal that should bring in 600 million euros although the choice of the shipyard (between four French companies Piriou-DCNS, CMN, Ocea and Couach) is still unknown.

The public transportation system, the kingdom wants to develop in five of its major cities, has also whetted the appetite of French companies such as Alstom and the RATP.

A deal estimated at one billion euros in Riyadh alone.

The drinking water system network has also been discussed for about three billion euros.

A contract that French Véolia should win.

The kingdom is also interested in spy satellites made by French defence group Thales with Airbus, which has flagged hopes of winning a three billion contract with Riyadh although the United States scuppered the negotiations in 2014.

France could also sell Saudi Arabia two next-generation European pressurised reactors made by the state-controlled nuclear group Areva.

Valls on Monday night opened the Saudi-French Business Opportunities Forum to promote commercial ties between firms from the two countries.

“Come and invest in France, it’s time, now more than ever”, Valls said to Saudi businessmen.

About 200 French companies also attended the forum, seeking contracts with the kingdom.

“France is now the third largest investor in Saudi Arabia”, said Valls, “and there are opportunities for development for Saudi companies in France”, he added.

Valls is on a tour of several Middle Eastern countries which began on Saturday in Cairo with the signing of a deal with Egypt to sell two helicopter carriers, before heading back to Paris on Tuesday night.

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