The below Q&A stems from a discussion with Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun at the Virtual Town hall hosted by the U.S.-Saudi Business Council on 29 April 2020.
What is the B20’s relationship with the U.S.-Saudi Business Council?
We have an important relationship with the U.S.-Saudi Business Council. Members of the organization integrate B20 Saudi Arabia, helping to develop policy recommendations that mitigate the fallout of global trade tensions and volatile markets by working towards increased international cooperation.
Recently, I had the tremendous opportunity of joining more than 300 members from the U.S.-Saudi Business Council to provide an overview of the work of B20 Saudi Arabia, the priority areas for our Taskforces and action-oriented recommendations U.S. and Saudi private sector companies can share with the G20 to address COVID-19.
For 25 years, the U.S.-Saudi Business Council (USSABC) has been playing an important role in developing and strengthening bilateral business relations through trade and investment by promoting a broader understanding among U.S. and Saudi companies, as well as providing information on specific business segments from manufacturing to agriculture and defense to healthcare. As businesses throughout the world face unprecedented challenges resulting from COVID-19, the USSABC’s collaboration with the B20 is vital in developing and advocating impactful and actionable policy recommendations to the G20 leaders.
What were the main topics discussed related to COVID-19?
Attendees noted the most significant impact to their respective businesses is related to sales, operations and/or workforce. These are certainly concerns that are shared by businesses globally as this health and economic crisis continues to deepen around the world.
Through B20’s COVID-19 initiative we’re working to address challenges that the business community is facing. As part of this initiative, we are reaching out to global business leaders, stakeholders and international policy makers to determine how best to collaborate and get consensus from the business world on how governments can better support the private sector during the current crisis, protect the economy and to prepare for future crises of similar or worse scale.
We’ve already proposed several recommendations to the G20 that would help sustain demand, prevent disruptions in global supply chains, safeguard employment and create a favorable fiscal and regulatory environment to ensure a strong rebound of companies post-pandemic. And they have taken note, addressing several of our recommendations during their recent Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit.
What are the greatest issues that Saudis and Americans can and should address together?
First, it is worth noting that Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have enjoyed a long and healthy relationship on many levels. Holding the G20 presidency in 2020 has given Saudi Arabia a leadership role among the most powerful countries at a time when the world is going through its worst crisis in decades. The Saudi G20 presidency had convened the G20 Leaders on 26th March for a virtual extraordinary summit as well as several ministers’ summits. It also recently launched an ‘ACT Accelerator,’ an initiative to speed up access to health tools needed to fight COVID-19.
This puts Saudi Arabia and the U.S. in a position to work together and cooperate with the rest of the international community to find global solutions to the pandemic and its economic fallout. Bringing economic relief to millions of people around the world who have lost their jobs or income must be the first priority.
How can I participate in future discussions?
The famous industrialist Henry Ford once said: “Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” We encourage your participation and collaboration in future events. To stay apprised of the latest events, please continue to follow the B20’s website, as well as Twitter and LinkedIn handles.
Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun is the B20 Sherpa. He is also the Secretary General of the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA), following a career of more than two and a half decades in the GCC region’s petrochemicals and energy sectors.