Russia Announces Potential Strategic Partnership with Saudi Arabia for Joint Vaccine Production Center for MENA in Response to Coronavirus

On April 14, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) disclosed that Moscow is in discussion with the Saudi government regarding a strategic partnership to build a giant vaccine production and distribution center in Saudi Arabia that will serve the Middle East and African markets. The impetus for the production and distribution center is reportedly the current public health crisis presented by the coronavirus pandemic. The project is also aimed at combatting future pandemics.

The news arrives just days following the emergence of a production cut agreement between Saudi Arabia and Russia intended to end their nearly month-long price war that exacerbated the decline of oil prices amid the coronavirus pandemic. It appears that following the production cut agreement, Moscow is seeking to renew momentum on Russia-Saudi economic relations. RDIF also disclosed that it is considering “several projects” with the Saudi Agricultural Investment and Animal Production Company (SALIC) and exploring opportunities to expand their recently opened grain trade.  On April 9,Russia shipped its first symbolic cargo of wheat to Saudi Arabia following the lifting of Riyadh’s grain import barriers in August 2019.