Research Proposal – Department of Food Business and Development

Research Proposal – Department of Food Business and Development

MSc/PhD Preliminary Research Proposal

  1. Proposed Title of Study

World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Ireland Saudi Arabia Business Council (ISABC’s) influence on Saudi Food Industry.

  1. General Background to your proposed study

Industrialization is relatively new in Saudi Arabia and started in 1974. The food industry is the oldest among the industries in Saudi Arabia. However, it is not as developed as the one in Ireland. For the food industry in Saudi Arabia to be revolutionized, the government of Saudi Arabia Business Council became members of the World Trade Organization in 2005. Recently, it also formed an alliance with the Irish government through the Ireland Saudi Arabia Business Council (ISABC). This study aims to analyze the influence of the two entities; WTO and ISABC on the food industry in Saudi Arabia.

  1. Summary of the main issues to be explored in your research

This research will look into the following aspects:

  • The contribution of the food industry to the GDP of Saudi Arabia
  • The micro and macro economics of Saudi Arabia’s food industry
  • The challenges experienced in this food industry
  • The changes that should be made for the desired goals to be achieved.
  • Comparison of the models used in Ireland to those used in Saudi Arabia and propose the required amendments.
  • Of great importance, showing how WTO and ISABC have or will impact the food industry in Saudi Arabia.
  1. Research Questions
  • What is the estimated contribution of the Saudi Arabia’s food industry to the GDP?
  • How has the World Trade Organization influenced the food industry in Saudi?
  • What is the expected impact of ISABC?
  1. Literature

ISABC was established in 2012 to carry on the initiatives by the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and enhance commercial ties between Ireland and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). This initiative, which is aimed at campaigning for increased bilateral trade and investment (Hunt 43), was formalized (through a memorandum of understanding) 12 years after the Foreign Investment Act was enacted in 2000 (SAGIA 1) and about seven years later, following the move by Saudi Arabia to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2005 (Oxford Business Group 11).

As the ISABC now serves the role of a direct intermediary, most of the work is focused on its capacity to engender the idea with its Irish counterparts effectively, and helping Irish investors when it comes to decision making. It is expected that the ISABC will approach the challenging inquiries and objections relative to the perception of investors regarding risks and benefits. Allowing professionals to showcase indices of projected growth and investment returns as prepared, its efforts in attracting FDI may still be compromised if critical concerns and other pre-engagement requisites are not comprehensively addressed.

A Google search with the Boolean string: trade relations+’’SaudiArabia’’+’’Ireland’’ provided a very small amount of information. The information was so scanty such that the only few available texts mentioning trade relations between Ireland and the KSA were news items from ArabNews (Ash 30) and other three items , two of which were blog articles ( 2; Cathain 25) and understandably, various short written articles from the ISABC website. Snippets (title and short summary) also highlighted a little or no significance. Most of the articles that feature stories about trade with Ireland were nominal and mentioned in part of United Kingdom’s trade relations with the KSA. Perhaps this can be attributed to a statement by Frank Ryan on an interview with Arab News (Ash 32) on Saudi-Irish trade relations stating that, ‘’Ireland is a small nation and cannot have deep rooted links with every state in the world.’’ He went on to point out that the revival of its Saudi relations can be traced back to the 2007 visit of the then Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and the appointment of a Saudi ambassador to Dublin in 2009 (Ash 33). Ryan was among the trade mission delegates that accompanied Jan O’ Sullivan- Minister for Trade and Development.

Critically, a blog article that appeared on the Irish Immigrant Support Center website (, independent Deputy Clare Daly- a left wing politician made a statement expressing the disappointment over trade arrangements with the KSA that is heavily anchored on the prospects of money but with very little adherence to human rights, concern rights and the systematic discrimination experienced by women and the Shi’a minority.

Food Industry

As of 1974, there were only 39 food processing industries in KSA. However, this number has significantly risen to 785 as of 2011.           In this sector, investment capital has increased from SR 5 Billion to SR 12 Billion between 1974 and 2011. Currently, the manufacturing industry contributes more than 120 billion to the GDP compared to the limited contribution in the 1970s (less than 20 billion). The food industry has specifically undergone tremendous growth. It contribution to the GDP has increased from 1,589 billion in 1995 to 12,605 billion in 2011. This represents an annual growth of 15%.

  1. Methodology

Within Ireland, there are members of the ISABC and the Irish business community, Insights through interviews will be elicited from members of the council of the SCCI in the KSA.

Types of Data– Primary data will be collected and encoded from survey results that consist the numerical values from written questionnaires (Likert scale/ quantitative data ) and narratives obtained from face to face interviews (qualitative data). Secondary forms will be acquired from the literature- books, journals, government statistics and news publications.

Sampling– Having acquired the initial consent of the ISABC (Pending formal submission of the request), the researcher expects to get leads and the official list of names of Irish companies and business people recognized by the council as qualified prospects for joint ventures, FDI opportunities and potential trade partners. Therefore, the purposive sampling technique is considered to be an ideal sampling strategy for this proposed study.

Data Analysis– The quantitative data will undergo statistical analysis through IBM and SPSS. 19 will also be encoded on Microsoft Excel to generate representational data. The educational foundation of the researcher, analytical and computer skills obtained through formal academic, professional and practical methods will be applied to help in analyzing and interpreting both quantitative and qualitative data.

Mixed Methods– Following the framework of an exploratory case study, the researcher shall use a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. The approach will be predominantly inductive (no testing of the hypothesis) and in view of the nationality of the researcher, the research philosophy is leaning towards interpretivism instead of positivism.

Pilot Study– A pilot study will be done to test the instruments for error and to enhance its reliability and validity prior to the proper undertaking of the survey.

  1. Practical Considerations

This study will be based on the collected data. With regards to this, there are plans to make sure that there is accessibility to critical data. Key data include: statistics from the government on the role played by the food industry on the nation’s GDP, the Irish food industry contribution to the GDP of Ireland, challenges facing the food industry in Saudi Arabia, opportunities available, opportunities and problems facing the Irish food industry, the role of the World Trade Organization in trade and especially the food industry in Saudi Arabia, the role of ISABC and its impact on the food industry. Some data may be confidential; however, I will liaise with the necessary authorities to access it. There are no ethical issues involved in this research; therefore this aspect will have very little impact on this study.

  1. Proposed Timetable

This study will be conducted over a period of one year. I will begin by taking my masters degree for one year. Thereafter, I will enroll for PhD that will run for a period of three years. The first three years (One for my Masters program and two for PhD studies) will be critical in the acquisition of necessary theory. The study will be undertaken in my final year of PhD studies. The first three months will entail drafting the scope of the study and collection of the necessary tools that are needed. The next quarter will involve the collection of data. The final quarter will involve the analysis of data and presentation of the results of the study.

Work Cited

Ash, N. (2011) Ireland Aims to Rebuild Trade Ties with Kingdom.Arab News. [Online] 17           October 2011. Available from: [Accessed           20/02/13].

Cathain, C.O. (2010) Developing Relationships with Saudi Arabia. A President’s   Notebook.Weblog [Online] 25 February 2010. Available from:     [Accessed 20/02/13].

Fletcher, R. And Brown, L. (2005). International Marketing: An Asia-Pacific Perspective.             Sydney: Pearson Education.

Hertog, S. (2008) Two-level Negotiations in a Fragmented System: Saudi Arabia’s WTO Accession. Review of International Political Economy, 15 (4), pp. 650-659.

ISABC (2013) Landing Page/Homepage.Ireland Saudi Arabia Business Council.Available            from: [Accessed 20/02/13].

NASCIRELAND.ORG (2012) PQ: Human Rights Issues – Ireland Saudi Arabia Business           Council. NASC: The Irish Immigrant Support Centre. Weblog [Online] 17 October   2012. Available from:                 issues-ireland-saudi-arabia-business-council/. [Accessed 20/02/13].

OXFORD BUSINESS GROUP (2011) The Report: Saudi Arabia 2010. London: Oxford /          Business Group.

PRADOS, A.B. And BLANCHARD, C.M. (2007) Saudi Arabia: Current Issues and U.S.           Relations. CRS Report for Congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Research       Service.

Ramady, M.A. (2010) The Saudi Arabian Economy: Policies, Achievements and    Challenges. 2nd ed. New York: Springer.