India, Pak Hope To Reap Investment From Saudi Crown Prince’s Visit

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Prince Mohammed will visit Pakistan this weekend, when he is expected to sign agreements, mainly related to a refinery and the electricity sector, Pakistani officials said.

He is expected to be in New Delhi next week, along with leading businessmen in Saudi Arabia, at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was one of the few heads of state to attend Riyadh’s flagship investment conference, an event that was boycotted by many companies and world leaders in protest at Khashoggi’s murder.

Prime Minister Modi met with the prince in November, when both were in Argentina for a summit of the Group of 20. Although Saudi Arabia remains India’s main supplier of oil, the two countries have expanded ties beyond Energy and its governments have agreed to establish a strategic partnership, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In recent years, there has been significant progress in bilateral cooperation in key areas of mutual interest, including energy security, trade and investment, infrastructure, defense and security, “the ministry said in a statement.

India expects Prince Mohammed to announce an initial investment in the National Fund for Investment and Infrastructure, an almost sovereign wealth fund, to help accelerate the construction of ports and roads, an official said.

Saudi Arabia has also expressed its desire to invest in India’s agricultural sector, with products to be exported to Saudi Arabia, said another official of the Ministry of Commerce.

However, the progress in a $ 44 billion refinery that Indian state oil companies agreed to build with Saudi Aramco on the west coast has been hampered by strong opposition from mango farmers who will lose their land.

Since taking office in 2014, Prime Minister Modi has tried to use India’s fast-growing economy to attract more investment from Saudi Arabia and other nations.

As a Muslim country, Pakistan has maintained strong ties with Saudi Arabia. In late October, Riyadh offered Pakistan a $ 6 billion loan to help keep its economy afloat in crisis.

Saudi Arabia has also announced plans for a $ 10 billion refinery and petrochemical complex in the coastal city of Gwadar, where China is building a port as part of its vast Belt and Road initiative.

“They are analyzing the energy sector, some of our privatization plans that they could bid for through our privatization process,” Pakistan’s investment minister Haroon Sharif told Reuters.

Sharif, who chairs the Pakistan Investment Board, said there was also a Saudi interest in Pakistan’s mining sector. “Saudi Arabia has huge resources, its investment fund is over $ 1 trillion, so we only want a fraction of that,” said a Pakistani second minister, who declined to be identified.
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Saudi state news indicated that Saudi officials will discuss investments with China, South Korea and Indonesia in sectors such as health and telecommunications, without giving further details.