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Ministers, business leaders seek to boost Saudi–Indian investment opportunities - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, right, and his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid give a press conference after a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on May 25, 2013. (AFP Photo/Saudi Press Agency)

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, right, and his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid give a press conference after a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on May 25, 2013. (AFP Photo/Saudi Press Agency)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Saudi–Indian Joint Business Council will be holding talks in New Delhi aimed at boosting investment opportunities between the two countries over the next few days, as Saudi Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz arrives in the Indian capital on Wednesday for a three-day visit.

Ministers and members of the business and investment communities from both countries are expected to attend the meetings.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Khalid Al-Otaibi, the secretary-general of the Council, said: “India is a very important strategic partner [for Saudi Arabia] on both the political and economic levels, as it has climbed the global economic rankings. We can cooperate . . . in a number of fields, including industry, the knowledge economy and communications, whether in India or Saudi Arabia.”

He added that the meetings would focus on removing obstacles facing the movement of capital between the two countries, and to act as a platform to exhibit projects and specific investment opportunities.

Otaibi said India had already put forward an impressive package of prospective investment projects in various fields, including infrastructure, health, training and education, during an earlier meeting in Riyadh between the Council and Indian Minister of Finance Palaniappan Chidambaram.

The talks are also expected to focus on establishing a number of joint banking initiatives to fund projects and to promote trade between the two nations.

Abdullah Al-Mubti, the chairman of the Saudi Chambers of Commerce, to which the Council belongs, said both sides would also discuss the idea of forming an investment holding company based in Delhi and established using capital from both countries in order to fund joint projects in industrial cities in Saudi Arabia.

He added that a number of exhibitions where each country could showcase its products to the other were also in the works.

Mubti said mutual investment projects in the small and medium enterprises sectors in both countries, as well as boosting trade in non-oil products and services, would also be discussed at the meetings.

The announcements came as Crown Prince Salman prepared for a state visit to India that begins on Wednesday. It will be the final stop on his tour of Asia, which included visits to Pakistan and Japan.

Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth-largest trading partner. Aside from an interlude during 2008–2010, bilateral trade between the two countries has been growing since 2007, jumping more than 45 percent during 2007–2008 and 2011–2012, according to the Indian Ministry of Commerce.

Trade between the two countries jumped 16.75 percent during 2012–2013, reaching almost 44 billion US dollars.

The Kingdom is also India’s top crude oil supplier. Roughly a fifth of crude imports to India during 2012–2013 came from Saudi Arabia.