Saudi Arabia is contemplating to invest $100 billion in India in key sectors such as petrochemicals, infrastructure and mining among others, considering the country’s growth potential, as per media report.
Saudi Ambassador Dr Saud bin Mohammed Al Sati has reportedly said India is an attractive investment destination for Saudi Arabia and it is eyeing long-term partnerships with New Delhi in areas of oil, gas and mining.
As EurAsian Times reported earlier, a high-profile tour by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently culminated in pledges of $20 billion worth of investment in longtime partner Pakistan, $28 billion in economic accords with China and an open-ended goal to invest $100 billion in India, along with promises of increased trade and security cooperation.
“Saudi Arabia is looking at making investments in India potentially worth $100 billion in the areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining,” Al Sati told news agency PTI in an interview.
Referring to Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil giant Aramco’s proposed agreement with Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries, the envoy said the pact reflected the strategic nature of the growing energy ties between the two countries.
“In this backdrop, Saudi Aramco’s proposed investments in India’s energy sector such as the $44 billion West Coast refinery and petrochemical project in Maharashtra and long term partnership with Reliance represent strategic milestones in our bilateral relationship,” he said.
It is notable that India imports 17 per cent or more of crude oil and 32 per cent of LPG from Saudi Arabia.
According to the envoy, more than 40 opportunities for joint collaboration and investments across various sectors have been identified between India and Saudi Arabia in 2019, adding the current bilateral trade of $34 billion will undoubtedly continue to increase.
“There is huge untapped potential available in merchandise trade, particularly in non-oil trade and we are enhancing cooperation in economic, commercial, investment, cultural and technological fields,” Al Sati said.
Commenting on future energy ties with India, he said the bilateral energy ties have grown beyond the supply of crude oil, refined products and LPG to a more comprehensive partnership that focuses on investments and joint ventures in petrochemical complexes and cooperation in exploration.
“India’s invitation to Saudi Arabia to invest in its strategic petroleum reserve reflects the trust and goodwill the two countries share,” he said.
In a post-Khashoggi world — where Riyadh’s longtime ally, Washington, faced its biggest crisis in years over human rights issues — the kingdom is working to ensure it has a range of options at its disposal.
Numerous European and American experts directly blamed crown prince MBS for his alleged role in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, however, the governments of Pakistan, India and China, by contrast, did not utter a single word.
Riyadh’s China and India investments are primarily economic at this point, says Hasnain Malik, global head of equity research and strategy at Exotix Capital in Dubai. They serve to deepen trade links with the fastest-growing markets for Saudi oil, though some experts have questioned whether and when all these pledged projects will actually happen.
But significantly, they also serve “the need to strengthen geopolitical relations to the East in preparation for a long-term scenario where the U.S. reduces commitment to Saudi security, leaving it to contend with Iran more self-sufficiently,” Malik told CNBC.