LONDON: The incoming Biden administration in Washington is set to herald a new chapter of trade ties between the US and the Gulf — as well as with the region’s largest economy.
In recent days, many analysts have speculated over the differences between how a Biden and Trump-led US will interact with the oil-exporting Gulf states and Saudi Arabia, the dominant regional economy.
Yet while different administrations have had different policy priorities in the region, the overall relationship has remained strong over the decades. Generations of young Saudis have traveled to universities across the US, while generations of Americans have comes to work in the Kingdom — many of them employed in the key oil and petrochemical sectors.
“Politically, the two sides see eye-to-eye on most regional and international issues and that is expected to continue,” wrote Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg, GCC assistant secretary-general for political affairs and negotiation.
“Energy cooperation is now more productive and equal, as the two sides sit on the same side of the table as major producers of oil and gas.”
Indeed, both the Gulf and the US, an increasingly important supplier of shale oil to the world, have a vested and mutual interest in ensuring oil market stability. This will become especially important in the year ahead as demand begins to recover with an expected pick-up in economic activity likely to follow in the wake of new vaccines.
Beyond oil, the US has strengthened its trade position in the Arab world in recent years with data analyzed by the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC), showing that exports of US goods to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) rose in 2019 to $62.64 billion, up about 4 percent on the previous year.
It represented the first time since 2014 that US goods sales to the MENA region have rebounded.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia remain the biggest destinations for US goods in the Arab world, according to US trade data. The pair accounted for more than half of total US goods exported to the MENA region last year.