7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Business News

Yemen in investment talks with Saudi firms

SANAA: Yemen is in talks with Saudi firms interested in acquiring farms or investing in fishery and livestock production with a first deal eyed by June, an official said.

Talks with Gulf investors mainly from neighbouring Saudi Arabia focused on investing in the western Red Sea coastal area of Houdeida, home to a port and fishery industry, General Investment Authority chairman Salah Attar said.

"We hope to conclude a big project, which is considered a strategic project, within quarter two of this year... It's a huge project," he said, adding that a first phase of the deal could be in the range of several hundred million dollars.

He declined to name the interested Saudi investor, saying only that it was a well-known firm. Saudi Arabia has been encouraging private investors to invest in agricultural projects abroad to secure food supplies.

Yemen says it needs $2 billion a year in economic aid to stay afloat and double that amount to turn around the economy.

Dwindling oil reserves and water reservoirs add to Yemen's woes. Yemen relies on groundwater, which nature cannot recharge fast enough to keep pace with a population of 22.4 million that is expanding by more than three per cent a year.

Attar acknowledged that limited packaging capabilities and transport issues were obstacles for the agriculture industry.

Diplomats say government control is weak in several parts of the country where tribes often block roads to ask for benefits.

Yemen was also in talks with European firms to start new gold and limestone granite mines, hoping to conclude the latter by year-end, Attar said.

"The gold is more difficult because it's sort of an agreement that goes through parliament," he said.

More than 10 foreign mining firms from Europe, the US, Asia and Middle East operate in Yemen, according to the website of Yemen's embassy in Washington.

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