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Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Plans a visit to India

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman may pay a state visit to India during his trip to Indonesia for the G20 summit in mid-November, people in the know said. This could lead to a deepening partnership between the two nations in energy, investment and security.

Salman, who has become the undisputed leader in the Kingdom and launched reforms, will attend the G20 summit in Bali on November 15-16. His possible visit to India follows an invitation extended to him by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar last month. Salman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi share a good relationship, which has helped strengthen ties between the two nations.

Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trading partner. It accounts for more than 18% of India’s 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 fuels.

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Earlier this month, the Middle Eastern country refused to toe the US line when the OPEC+ (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) group of oil producers decided to cut oil output from November.

Like India, Riyadh has refused to take sides in the Ukrainian conflict despite Western pressure.

During Jaishankar’s visit to Riyadh in September, India opted for Saudi investments in energy, information technology and defense manufacturing.

The two sides also sought to expand partnerships in food security, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and entertainment.

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Jaishankar and his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, co-chaired a ministerial meeting of the Political, Security, Social and Cultural Committee of Saudi Arabia’s Strategic Partnership Council.

The meeting focused on strengthening the economic partnership between the two countries in light of the Kingdom’s “Vision 2030” and promoting investment between the two countries. The officials said the two sides also discussed ways to strengthen ties in security and cultural and social affairs. .

Saudi Arabia is also exploring the possibility of partnering with India on food security. It identified India as a good destination for sourcing commodities such as rice, red meat, sugar, infant milk powder and seafood, among others, the officials said, adding that both countries had taken steps to ensure availability of agricultural products during the crisis. .

India continues to supply food to the Gulf region, including Saudi Arabia. Indian clinics are operating across the kingdom and officials say there is a good opportunity for large Indian hospital chains to set up shop here.

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

Major Saudi investment groups present in India include 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 US$44 billion West Coast Refinery and Petrochemicals project in Maharashtra, which is jointly being implemented 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 a controlling interest in 600 mw of wind power projects in India.

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