ISLAMABAD: Following on the heels of a high-powered business meeting between Islamabad and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade Abdul Rahman Al-Harbi pledged an increase in bilateral trade volume with a focus on expansion in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors.
“Current bilateral trade relationship is now around $3.2 billion and it is not meeting expectations… I think there is a great room for improvement [in the existing trade volume],” Al-Harbi told Arab News, on the sidelines of a dinner hosted by Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, on Wednesday.
Al-Malki said relations between Pakistan and Saudi are deep-rooted, with both countries looking to expand in major sectors. “We will further cement our strong ties with the new government,” Al-Malki said.
Pakistani officials from the ministry of trade and commerce were also present at the meeting, including the Secretary of Commerce Mohammed Younus Dagha.
Dagha, on his part, said that result-oriented meetings have been held between the two sides and the response from “Saudi Arabia side was very very positive.” “We want a very large investment from Saudi Arabia. And we are talking in [terms of] several million dollars … [specifically] in the petrochemical sector,” he said.
Referring to the role of the private sector in enhancing bilateral trade ties, Al-Harbi said they had held meetings with representatives from SABIC, Maaden and Aramco which helped identify “many areas of cooperation”.
“Personally, I’m very optimistic and I think it (bilateral trade) has a great potential and it is in the right direction now. We [just have to] make sure that the private sectors get access to those opportunities,” he said.
Dagha said Pakistan has huge investment potential, especially in the agricultural sector, and Saudi Arabia would be extended all help to advance in the field. “We are willing to give Saudi large areas of land. They can come and develop [their resources],” Dagha said.