LONDON, June 28 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian veterinary services company MAS has signed an agreement with Argentine biotechnology company Biogenesis Bago to set up the country’s first animal vaccine manufacturing plant with investments worth $60 million
The planned Riyadh-based plant, a 50-50 joint venture, will provide 400 job opportunities by early 2025, with further job expansion expected as it begins exporting to the region.
The Saudi government has made attracting greater foreign investment a cornerstone of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s reform strategy, Vision 2030, to diversify the economy of the world’s largest oil exporter away from oil revenues.
As part of measures designed to create 1.6 million manufacturing and logistics jobs by 2030, Prince Mohammed wants to attract private sector companies that are willing to transfer expertise and localize knowledge so Saudi Arabia can eventually manufacture a bigger share of products domestically.
“The JV between Biogenesis Bago and MAS will build a facility that will initially focus on foot and mouth disease (FMD) vaccine production, but in the future it will develop all the (animal) vaccines that are needed in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East countries,” Esteban Turic, chief executive of Biogenesis Bago, told Reuters.
The facility, expected to take three years to complete, will produce 200 million doses a year of vaccine for FMD, a capacity that will meet local demand and allow exporting to the region. Commercial production is expected to start by late 2024 or early 2025, he added.
Business activity in Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private sector hit a three-month high in April and employment grew for the first time in five months, as the kingdom shows signs of recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and lower oil prices.
Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by Steve Orlofsky