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HomeNewsSaudi crown prince plans mid-November visit to India

Saudi crown prince plans mid-November visit to India

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman could make a state visit to India on his way to Indonesia for the mid-November G20 Summit, people in the know said. This could see the two nations deepen their partnership in the areas of energy, investment and security.

Salman, who has emerged as an undisputed leader in the Kingdom and ushered in reforms, will be attending the G20 Summit in Bali on November 15 and 16. His possible India visit follows the invitation extended to him by foreign minister S Jaishankar last month. Salman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi share good relations, which has helped bolster ties between the two nations.

Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth-largest trading partner. It accounts for more than 18% of India’s crude oil imports. In the nine months to December 2021, bilateral trade between the two countries was valued at $29.28 billion.

Amid the current geopolitical tensions, India sees Saudi Arabia as a reliable supplier of fossil fuel.

Earlier this month, the Middle East nation had refused to toe the US line when the OPEC+ (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) group of oil producers decided to cut petroleum production from November.

Like India, Riyadh has refused to take sides in the Ukraine conflict, despite pressure from the West.

During Jaishankar’s Riyadh visit in September, India had pitched for Saudi investments in energy, information technology and defence manufacturing.

The two sides also sought to expand partnership in the areas of food security, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and entertainment.

Partnering India on Food Security | page 9

Jaishankar and his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, had co-chaired the ministerial meeting of the Political, Security, Social, and Cultural Committee of the Saudi-Indian Strategic Partnership Council. The meeting focused on consolidating economic partnership between the two countries in light of the Kingdom’s ‘Vision 2030’ and boosting of investment between the two countries.Officials said the two sides also discussed ways of enhancing ties in the fields of security and cultural and social affairs.

Saudi Arabia is also exploring ways of partnering with India on food security. It has identified India as a good destination to source commodities such as rice, red meat, sugar, infant milk powder and seafood, among other items, officials said, adding that both nations have taken steps to secure availability of agro products in times of crisis.

India continues to supply food items to the Gulf region, including Saudi Arabia. Indian clinics are operational across the Kingdom, and officials say there is good opportunity for major Indian hospital chains to establish their presence there.

In the April-December period of FY22, India’s imports from Saudi Arabia touched $22.65 billion while its exports to Saudi Arabia were worth $6.63 billion. Saudi investments in India, as of March 2021, stood at $3.13 billion.

Among the major Saudi investment groups present in India are Saudi Aramco, SABIC, ZAMIL, E-holidays, and Al Batterjee Group. Soft Bank’s ‘Vision Fund’ has invested in Indian startups such as Delhivery, FirstCry, Grofers, Ola, OYO, Paytm and PolicyBazaar.

Other proposed investments include the $44 billion West Coast Refinery and Petrochemicals Project in Maharashtra, which is being jointly executed by Saudi Aramco, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, and an Indian consortium comprising Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, and Bharat Petroleum Corporation.

In the renewable energy sector, Saudi company Al-Fanar has controlling stake in 600 mw of wind power projects in India.

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