JEDDAH: The high-level Saudi delegation on a five-day visit to Islamabad held talks with Pakistani authorities on Monday in a cordial atmosphere as both sides discussed areas for potential investment, Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood told Arab News.
A multibillion-dollar oil refinery which Saudi Arabia has offered to set up in Pakistan’s port city of Gwadar was one of the items discussed.
“Today (Monday) meetings with the Saudi delegation started on a very positive note. Both sides reviewed the areas of mutual interest,” Dawood said.
The Saudi delegation, which arrived in Pakistan on Sunday — shortly after Pakistan’s newly elected Premier Imran Khan’s visit to the Kingdom — remained busy on Monday, meeting individually with Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood, Minister of Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Minister of Power Omar Ayub Khan, and Finance Minister Asad Umar. During the meeting with the finance minister, both sides discussed areas of mutual cooperation. “Saudi Arabia has always supported Pakistan in the most difficult times,” Umar said. “The Saudi delegation has expressed interest in an oil refinery, the power sector, setting up a desalination plant, wind projects, and solar power projects,” Dawood added. The visiting delegation is expected to sign memoranda of understanding in projects of mutual interest at the end of the five-day visit.
“The delegation is going to visit Gwadar on Tuesday to review the setting up of the oil refinery,” Dawood said. Saudi Arabia has also expressed interest in acquiring stakes in liquefied natural gas power plants in Punjab province. During the meeting with Federal Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan, the visiting delegation, led by adviser on energy Ahmad Hamed Al-Ghamdi, discussed prospects of increasing cooperation in the power sector.
Ayub briefed the delegation about investment opportunities in the power sector and assured full security to the investors. “Pakistan is the best destination for foreign investment,” Khan told the delegation.
Both sides also discussed the current volume of bilateral trade and explored ways to enhance trade volume from the current $3.4 billion, which is largely in favor of Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan imported $3.1 billion worth from the Kingdom while exporting only $316.7 million worth of goods during the 2017-18 fiscal year, the State Bank of Pakistan’s data shows.
During the meeting, Pakistan also formally sought the import of crude oil from the Kingdom on deferred payment for at least 90 days.
Last week, Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had signed three agreements to bring major investment into the country after the formal invitation of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia as a third partner in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
During his visit to the Kingdom in September, Umar had said that Prime Minister Khan discussed with the Saudi leadership measures for trade enhancement and investment. “These are measures which will help fill the external financing gap,” Umar noted.
He said Pakistan was constantly in touch with international commercial markets and banks for financing.