Today began the fourth summit between South American and Arab leaders in Riyadh. Representatives from 22 Arab and 12 Latin American states will meet to discuss a number of issues, including politics, security, human rights and trade.
Gulf News reports that leaders from both continents have touted the growing trade relationship between Arab and Latin American states – which has grown from $6b in 2005 to $30b in 2015.
Saudi Finance Minister, Ibrahim al Assaf, in addressing the more than 350 businessmen that attended the summit, spoke of the need to intensify the relationship due to the opportunities both regions hold. The minister said that 17 percent of Arab exports go to South America (mostly oil and petroleum products, fertilizers, iron and steel), while 20 percent of South American exports arrive in the Arab world (mostly meat, grains, minerals and foodstuffs).
Among the most interesting developments of the conference is the expected plan that UNASUR, the South American cooperation organization, may propose to stabilize the price of oil to around $80 per barrel. Venezuelan media outlet teleSUR reports that the Ecuadorian and Venezuelan presidents are expected to present a proposal for OPEC to create a price band between $70 and $80 per barrel.
UNASUR representatives have claimed that low oil prices harm quality of life for South American people and undermine political stability in the region: “We have governed with stable oil prices, but can we govern with low prices?” The governments of Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Columbia have faced difficulty managing budgets and social programs with a decline in oil revenues.