By Staff writer
US Treasury releases first valuation of Saudi assets, which make up 20% of the kingdom’s foreign exchange reserves
Saudi Arabia is holding $116.8 billion worth of US government debt, as of March this year, the US Treasury Department has said.
Until now, the US has not revealed how much of its bonds are held by Saudi Arabia. The Treasury made the disclosure following a freedom of information request by Bloomberg.
Although the figure puts Saudi Arabia among the world’s top 14 holders of US government debt, the sum is dwarfed by China, which holds $1.25 trillion and Japan, which holds $1.13 trillion.
Saudi holdings of US Treasuries peaked at $123.6 billion in January, the data showed.
The sum makes up roughly 20 percent of Saudi Arabia’s foreign exchange reserves, which are managed by the kingdom’s central bank. As of March, Saudi foreign exchange assets had fallen to $579 billion.
The issue of Saudi Arabia’s investments into US bonds came sharply into focus last month, when the kingdom reportedly warned US officials that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars of American assets if a new bill is passed that could allow the Saudi government to be held accountable for the 9/11 terror attacks.
The New York Times reported that Adel Al Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, had delivered the message personally in March, stating that the kingdom could be forced to sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets if they could be in danger of being frozen by US courts.
Those other assets could consist of non-government debt, stocks, derivatives, or securities in custody at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or elsewhere, Bloomberg reported.
Also included in the data release was the value of US government debt holdings of the main oil-exporting nations, most of which are in the Middle East.
The UAE followed Saudi Arabia with $62.5 billion worth of US government debt, followed by Kuwait ($31.2 billion), Oman ($15.9 billion), Iraq ($13.4 billion) and Qatar ($3.7 billion).