In 2008, Saudi Arabia export was valued at 313.4 billion U.S. dollars (including oil and oil products in the amount of 188.57 billion U.S. dollars), while the imports was valued at 108.3 billion U.S. dollars. As in previous years it was the trade surplus of 205.1 billion U.S. dollars in the balance. The main trade partners of Saudi Arabia are the U.S., Japan, South Korea, China and India, the main importing countries are USA, Japan, China, Germany and South Korea. Despite the traditionally high level of money transfers by foreign workers, private transfers and government payments, the current account surplus is over 90 billion U.S. dollars (2005), the approximately 6 million migrant workers have to made payments amounting up to 14 billion U.S. dollars. The country has substantial foreign exchange reserves.
The main mineral resources of Saudi Arabia are: oil, natural gas, gold, limestone, gypsum, marble, clay, salt, iron and phosphorus. Saudi Aramco is the national oil producing company and the largest oil company in the world, with headquartered in Zahran. Saudi Arabia has the world’s largest proven oil reserves and is one of the biggest oil exporters. The country is a leading member of OPEC. The largest oil producing company in the world was nationalized by the Saudi state. It is essential to note that Saudi Arabia has 25% of all known oil reserves in the world, the country’s economy in the broadest sense, is specialized in everything that has to do with oil. The country has the eighth-largest refining capacity in the world. Since the products produced from the refining products such as heating oil, gasoline, kerosene and diesel demand in the Kingdom are much higher than, they are exported to countries that do not have their own oil refinery industry. Moreover, the Kingdom is a reliable and constructive partner, especially during the Cold War and the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Also, during the Second Gulf War in 1991 Saudi Arabia played extremely important role: it threw all its spare capacity on the market to compensate for the loss of Iraqi and Kuwaiti production, and thus stabilized the markets, as described in Saudi Arabia Business Guide.
The importance of Saudi Arabia is not measured solely on the basis of high production and oil reserves, but also to its role as security in the world oil market: it has spare capacity that can be put in times of shortage of supply onto the market and in times of plenty withdrawn. In the past (until 2006) Saudi Arabia produced over 9 million barrels per day. Since 2007, Saudi Arabia promotes more than 9.4 million barrels per day and compete with Russia as the main oil exporter in the world. Ghawar is the largest oil field in the world, originate from around 6% of world production of the Kingdom. Experts believe that Saudi Arabia has cut back its output target to increase the price of oil. The U.S. called for recently is often suggested to increase the funding rates again. The Kingdom is considered the mainstay of world oil production: about 16% of world oil prices come exclusively from this country with 49 known oil fields and 28 gas fields. As a fact, from 92% of Saudi oil production in 2002, only 7% came from giant oil fields, as stated in Doing Business in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabian Social and Business Culture.
In April 2006, Saudi Aramco announced that all of its older oil fields have reached their period of stagnation and fall the delivery rate to 8% per year. This is consistent with the results of different oil experts. However, the Kingdom continue to conduct payments in the U.S. dollars, even after the ongoing weakness of this currency in February and March 2008, the central bank governor of the Saudi Arabia gave the rumor that the country does not plan to give the change the payment currency to euro. This message could breathe again, the U.S. economy, because the United States is the biggest buyer of Saudi oil, and if Saudi Arabia moves to settlements in other currency, it would be serious blow to the U.S. economy. Moreover, along with oil, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has the fourth largest natural gas reserves worldwide. Saudi Arabia is one of the countries located in the so-called strategic ellipse.
In turn, describing the labor market of the country it should be noted that women do have the equal employment rights, in particular they can not work in oil or gas industry. However, they may work at night and have the right to maternity leave and in larger companies (more than 50 employees). In 2006 there were 10.7% of women workers in the country. Mostly, women work in the fields of education, social services, health and media. On April 23, 2006 a new labor law came to force. The most important labor market policy instrument in this law is the Saudi program to replace the approximately 6 million migrant workers by increasing the amount of working women with their own nationality. According to this law, the companies are committed to increase their share of Saudi workers up to 75%. However, The Minister of Labor may reduce this percentage in the case, when there is no enough qualified Saudi employees for certain job. Also, the new labor law strengthens the rights of guest workers. In particular, employers are obliged to sign employment contracts and to bear the entire cost of entry and exit and the granting of leave. On the other hand, the law provides for a training commitment of the plants to gradually replace the foreign workers by Saudi workers. A strict visa policy accompanies this program. Thus, according to the will of the Minister of Labour, the number of visas for foreign workers is significantly reduced – by 100.000 visas per year, as described in Doing Business in Saudi Arabia.