Saudi Delegation in Chicago Hopes to Strengthen U.S. Trade Ties

April 27, 2010

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This week, government officials and business people from Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are convening in Chicago to explore greater economic cooperation. It's the first conference of its kind, and many Saudi delegates hope it will bridge a cultural divide that they say widened after 9/11.

Approximately 200 Saudis are in the City for the U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum, an event they hope will become annual. One of them is Fatin Bundagji, from the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

BUNDAGJI: This relationship needed to realign itself. Bundagji says international trade leads to better cultural understanding.

Even after 9/11, U.S.-Saudi trade steadily increased, peaking in 2008. But Bundagji says the Saudi government wants help in areas like education, science and technology -- that go beyond the oil sector.

BUNDAGJI: Look, what we need is the expertise. More than the money, we need the expertise.

Bundagji says Saudi delegates are particularly interested in learning more about venture capital and business incubation in the U.S.