India and Saudi Arabia focus on sustainability to boost bilateral ties: Indian Commerce Minister


RIYADH: India and Saudi Arabia plan to strengthen their long-standing ties through enduring initiatives that will expand opportunities for both nations, Indian Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has said.

On an official visit to the Kingdom on September 18-19, the minister met with his Saudi counterpart, the Minister of Commerce, Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Alkassabi, to discuss economic ties between the Kingdom and India.

He is also expected to co-chair the inaugural ministerial meeting of the Economic and Investment Committee alongside Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman.

Areas of collaboration between the two countries will include the West Coast Refinery Project, transoceanic grid connectivity and food security, in addition to encouraging green hydrogen trade, pharmaceutical and energy security.

“The economy and trade relations play a vital role in today’s world. My visit this time is aimed at creating this conducive environment, which will help businesses from both countries to engage with each other,” Goyal told Arab News.

“This will help expand opportunities for our young boys and girls, especially in innovation,” he added.

Convergence of vision

With the Vision 2030 plan aimed at empowering small and medium enterprises by paving the way for greater opportunities, India is playing a big role in fostering startups in the Kingdom through the Make in India initiative.

The minister explained that Saudi Arabia could significantly benefit from India-Saudi partnerships between startups and finance companies, gaining a better understanding of the market development of one of the major economies.

India holds the third largest startup ecosystem in the world, with over 70,000 startups registered with the Ministry of Commerce and 107 unicorns in the country, each valued at over $1 billion and collectively at $340 billion. .

“This ecosystem can grow in India, given the strength of funding and the support that Saudi Arabia can provide in terms of capital… We are not in competition with each other; we complement each other,” the minister told Arab News.

A key objective of the meeting was to accelerate progress on the Kingdom’s $100 billion investment in the growth of various economic sectors in India, announced by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in 2019.

The minister said: “Due to global uncertainties, some of our ambitious plans on investment flows from Saudi Arabia to India could not come to fruition, but given the commitment of both parties and of the huge opportunities in India, I now see him moving forward in mission mode.

Explore new synergies

Goyal highlighted the various sectors of opportunity for the fund, as discussed with his Saudi counterpart, including clean energy generation, startup ecosystem, food trading, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals and petrochemicals.

While India is one of the Kingdom’s biggest oil importers, Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification, including the transition to a non-oil economy and new paths, was hailed by the minister.

“At a time when fossil fuels are facing the challenges of climate change, efforts are being made to create alternative and renewable sources of energy. It is important that Saudi Arabia also engages in portfolio diversification to prepare the country for the future,” the minister said.

“[It] clearly shows that the leadership of Saudi Arabia is truly progressive, modern and visionary,” he added.

While the recent pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war have significantly affected most economies, India continues to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with a 7% growth in its domestic product. raw.

The nation has also mandated the Reserve Bank of India, its central bank, to closely monitor and rein in rising inflation rates.

“We showed a lot of resilience. Our handling of COVID has been widely appreciated. I must acknowledge and thank the Saudi government, the Crown Prince and the people of Saudi Arabia for their support during this time,” he said, thanking the Kingdom for providing critical supplies of medical oxygen to the nation.

Focus on sustainability

One of the greatest initiatives taken by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is his dedication to protecting the environment, fighting climate change, creating sustainable lifestyles and creating sources of energy. renewable energy.

The minister said: “Intergenerational equity demands that we leave behind a better planet than the one we inherited, and I think Saudi Arabia and India are committed to that. We will work together and ensure that that both countries are working towards a better future for our children.

India aims to produce 25 million tons of green hydrogen per year by 2047 as a first step to reduce energy imports. The country has also developed the idea of ​​a transoceanic grid, designed to harness solar energy and potentially distribute electricity globally.

“We have already launched studies to see how we can connect the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries and India through submarine cables and perhaps create a transmission network between the two regions,” he said. he declared.

The Minister hopes that the trade relationship will also focus on the food and energy security of the two nations on a larger scale.

“We envision creating a bridge between India and Saudi Arabia, so that Saudi Arabia’s food security becomes a responsibility that India will shoulder. Just as we believe India’s energy security is the responsibility that our Saudi friends can shoulder,” he said.

“I see this partnership blossoming under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and His Highness the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, to very high levels,” the beaming minister added.

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