First foreign visit since UN murder allegations . . .
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) visited South Korea this week ahead of the G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan. This was his first official foreign trip since a United Nations report found Saudi Arabia responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. MBS, who is serving as First Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister (his moniker is ‘Mr. Everything’), is the de facto leader of the kingdom.
South Korea a partner in Vision 2030 . . .
The Saudi leader met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and the two sides signed US$8.3B worth of MoUs, mostly related to mobility, the hydrogen economy, and emerging technologies. Saudi Arabia is pursuing its Vision 2030 in pursuit of diversified economic growth and less dependence on oil. South Korea is one of the eight strategic partners for Vision 2030, along with China, France, Germany, India, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. MBS also visited the Agency for Defense Development, Korea’s main R&D centre for defence products. He was reportedly interested in adopting South Korea’s model for building a more self-reliant defence industry.
Will Korea’s gain be Canada’s loss? . . .
Until recently, Saudi Arabia was a top purchaser of Canada’s military goods and technologies, buying C$497.5M worth of products in 2017, roughly half of Canada’s total military exports that year. However, after a bilateral diplomatic dispute over human rights in 2018, all trade has ceased except for oil. MBS’s move in South Korea indicates Saudi Arabia’s pursuit of alternative options.
- Al Jazeera: Saudi Crown Prince MBS visits Seoul for trade deals
- The Globe and Mail: Saudi-Canadian relations and the arms deal: A guide to the story so far
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