Saudi Arabia

Bilateral relations

Saudi Arabia was Australia’s 33rd largest trading partner. Total goods and services trade amounted to $2.2 billion in 2020. Australia’s major goods exports to Saudi Arabia in 2020 included barley, beef and other meats. Major goods imports from Saudi Arabia included gold, fertilisers, inorganic chemicals and aluminium.

There is scope for Australian firms to boost agricultural exports to Saudi Arabia, particularly as the expanding middle class start to demand higher quality proteins and grains. Opportunities also exist in the extractive industries, infrastructure and education.

Education dominates Australia’s services exports to Saudi Arabia. Although enrolments in Australian educational institutions have been falling over the past ten years, Saudi students represent the largest cohort from the Middle East region. Opportunities exist in education cooperation, both to build the numbers of Saudi students studying in Australian universities, and for Australian institutions to provide education services in Saudi Arabia, including in the context of Vision 2030. Tourist arrivals slumped in 2020 and remained low in 2021. The ongoing pandemic points to another year of uncertainty for services exports in 2022.

Bilateral investment between Saudi Arabia and Australia is minimal. But investment opportunities are large, particularly in mining and agriculture. Major Saudi sovereign wealth funds are increasing their international investments, announcing their interest in oil and gas assets and renewable technologies. The Saudi Agriculture and Livestock Investment Company invested in Australian agricultural land in 2019 and is exploring further agriculture investment options.