The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the world's most important trading nations. Most of its trade is outbound: Saudi Arabia is the Middle East-North Africa region's largest exporter, the world's 16th largest exporter and its 23rd largest importer. It has the third-biggest current account surplus in the world.
In 2005, Saudi Arabia became the 149th member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Now comprising 153 members, the WTO helps producers of goods and services, exporters and importers to conduct their business. Over recent years KSA has further liberalised its trade regime to offer an open, supportive and stable environment for trade in accordance with WTO rules.
Saudi Arabia is a founding member of the Riyadh-based Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), whose other members are the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
The GCC Customs Union was launched in 2003, eliminating internal tariffs, enabling the free movement of labour and capital internally and creating a unified 5% external tariff on most imported products. The final phase of this customs union will be implemented by 2015.
GCC countries have signed free-trade agreements with Singapore and the European Free Trade Association.
Saudi Arabia is also a founding member of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), established in 1997. Its members are the GCC states plus Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has signed bilateral trade and investment agreements with Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan. It has also signed trade cooperation agreements with countries such as Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.