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Pakistan aims high as Saudi investors arrive

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ISLAMABAD: A key Saudi delegation comprising dozens of investors has arrived in Islamabad on a three-day visit to explore investment opportunities, as Pakistan aims to court foreign investors to boost its exports in collaboration with Saudi companies.

The delegation led by Saudi Deputy Investment Minister Ibrahim Almubarak was welcomed by Commerce Minister Jam Kamal and Petroleum Minister Musadik Malik at the Nur Khan airbase, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Commerce.

According to the commerce minister, the purpose of the visit is to enh­ance trade ties between investors from both countries and identify trade and investment opportunities across various sectors of national economy.

He said the ministry picked several Pakistani companies for business-to-business (B2B) meetings with the Saudi investors and disclosed that “leading” Pakistani companies would collaborate with at least 30 Saudi companies across different sectors. During the meetings, local companies will present their business and investment proposals to their Saudi counterparts.

The B2B meetings will target sectors, such as agriculture, mining, human resource, energy, chemicals, and maritime. More­over, discussions will also cover investment prospe­cts in other sectors, including IT, religious tourism, telecom, aviation, construction, water and power generation, he added.

The minister expressed optimism that several companies would be able to finalise business and investment deals during the B2B sessions, fostering greater economic cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. During a recent visit, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif held a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as the latter agreed to expedite the first wave of a planned $5 billion Saudi investment package for Pakistan.

The information minister had termed the premier’s visit “highly successful” and said that major developments would take place within the next few months because of the PM’s trip to Riyadh. “Within a short span of just one month, the prime minister held two meetings with the Saudi crown prince which has a historic significance for the two brotherly countries,” the minister had said.

Before Shehbaz Sharif, ex-caretaker prime minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar had visited Saudi Arabia. In Sept 2023, he claimed that the Saudi government would invest up to $25 billion in Pakistan over the “next two to five years” across various sectors.

APP adds: A two-day Pakis­tan-Saudi Arabia investment moot will begin today to “promote bilateral trade and invest­ment” and foster a new era of growth and prosperity.

The report cited a commerce ministry official saying that Saudi Arabia was an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities; however, it was now undergoing a transformation to reduce oil dependence, diversify income sources, and enhance competitiveness under the Vision 2030.

Currently, the major exports of the Kingdom included mineral fuels, mineral oils, plastics and organic chemicals, whereas it was importing machinery, vehicles, and agricultural products. The official said that during the first half of the current financial year, bilateral trade between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia was recorded at over $248 million, with Pakistan’s share of exports at $262.58 million and Saudi exports at $2.219 billion.

He said Pakistan’s major exports to Saudi Arabia included rice, meat of bovine animals, fruits and vegetables, and tents and camping goods.