RIYADH: Pakistan wants to increase its trade with Saudi Arabia to $20 billion, up from the current $5.7 billion, through enhancing business conditions, according to a top official.
The Saudi-Pakistani Business Forum kicked off in Riyadh on Feb. 22 under the patronage of Minister of Commerce Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, organized by the Federation of Saudi Chambers, according to the Kingdom’s official press agency.
During the event, Pakistan’s Minister of Commerce Gohar Ejaz highlighted the role of the Free Trade Agreement between the Gulf Corporation Council countries and his nation in opening up opportunities for investors from both regions.
He expressed his ambition to increase trade volume to $20 billion by improving the business environment between the two countries and encouraging the private sector, especially since Pakistan represents a significant market and opportunity for Saudi investors.
Chairman of the Federation of Saudi Chambers Hassan Al-Huwaizi noted the leaps in trade exchange between the Kingdom and Pakistan, which reached $5.7 billion, adding that Pakistan now ranks 20th in the list of Saudi trading partners, with broader prospects for partnership and Pakistani investors in Vision 2030 projects.
The Kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates, serving as the top source of remittances for the cash-strapped South Asian country.
“Remittance inflows during Jan. 24 were mainly sourced from Saudi Arabia ($587.3 million), United Arab Emirates ($407.6 million), United Kingdom ($362.1 million) and United States of America ($283.4 million),” the State Bank of Pakistan said in a press release.
Ejaz pointed out that the agreement provides protection and guarantees for Saudi and Gulf investments, explaining that the forum comes within Pakistan’s interest in developing its relations with the Kingdom and benefiting from Vision 2030 projects.
The minister of commerce emphasized in a speech, conveyed by Acting Deputy Governor of the Foreign Trade Authority’s Deputyship of Private Sector Affairs and Global Presence Fawaz bin Rafaah, the significant role played by the private sectors of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in developing the volume of trade exchange, as reported by the Saudi Press Agency.
Fahd Al-Bash, president of the Saudi-Pakistani Business Council, revealed several initiatives and projects the council is working on in cooperation with investors from both countries.
These include launching a portal for rice importers from Pakistan, establishing a technology center in Riyadh, a halal meat center in Makkah, as well as a market for Pakistani products in the Kingdom and joint petrochemical industries to meet the needs of the market.
Forum participants discussed the opportunities and initiatives provided by Vision 2030 for Pakistani investors, as well as the investment options available to Saudi businessmen in Pakistan across various targeted economic sectors.
During the forum, the ministry of investment screened a presentation titled “Invest in Saudi Arabia,” covering the financial environment and opportunities in the Kingdom.
The Agricultural Development Fund also presented its services and efforts in agricultural sector development.
Additionally, the Saudi Export-Import Bank showcased its efforts and services in developing Saudi exports and serving exporters, while the Pakistani Investment Council reviewed the investment opportunities available in Pakistan.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has directed a study to increase the Kingdom’s investments in Pakistan to $10 billion.
He also advised the Saudi Fund for Development to explore opportunities for enhancing the Saudi deposit to the Central Bank of Pakistan, aiming to reach $5 billion.