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Saudi keen to double bilateral trade

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Oct. 14

SAUDI Arabia is keen on doubling the bilateral trade with India from the extant $4 billion to $8 billion in the short-term taking advantage of the long-standing economic and commercial cooperation between India and Saudi Arabia.

Talking to Business Line here on the sidelines of a meeting organised by the Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO) with a visiting business delegation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the leader of the Saudi delegation, Mr Abdul Rahman A Al-Jeraisy, said that his country was keen on exporting information technology equipment, carpet and garments and air-conditioning and home appliances, his country was equally keen on importing a range of goods from India so that bilateral trade could progressively be doubled in the immediate future.

He sought more Indian investment in Saudi Arabia not only for setting up joint ventures but also to churn out products for export to third countries using Saudi Arabia as a base.

Earlier in the meeting Additional Secretary Ministry of External Affairs, Mr Rajiv Sikri, drew attention to the large trade deficit of $2.7 billion and said this should be reduced and balance achieved to the extent possible in bilateral trade.

He said Indian companies had set up 43 joint ventures in Saudi Arabia in different sectors, including IT, telecom, pharmaceuticals and construction.

Mr Sikri highlighted the continued restrictions on the entry of Indian pharma products into Saudi Arabia. Considering the global acceptability of Indian pharma products, he hoped that the Saudi authorities would facilitate the entry of Indian pharma products

Stating that pessimism and introversion of the typical Indian mind has given way to optimism and outward looking attitude, he said this new emerging market offers "tremendous new opportunities for countries such as Saudi Arabia for trade and particularly investment".

The Saudi Ambassador in India, Mr Salah M Al Ghamdi, assured Mr Sikri that the question of restrictions on the entry of Indian pharma products would be looked into and asked Indian industry to benefit from the Saudi market by investing in oil and gas fields in the Kingdom.

The President of FIEO, Mr Rafeeque Ahmed, in his welcome address, recalled the successful visits to the Kingdom of two FIEO business delegations in May-June and early September this year. He was confident that bilateral trade would make a quantum jump within a short time with such frequent exchange of trade delegations between the two countries.

In his remarks, the FIEO Director-General Mr G Balachandran, said India's exports to Saudi Arabia had increased from $742 million in 1999-2000 to $941 million in 2002-03 and said both the countries were poised to further strengthen their traditional bonds by way of joint ventures, investments, besides beefing up the commodity trade such as basmati/non-basmati rice, tea, manmade yarn and cotton yarn from India and crude oil, iron pyrites, non-ferrous metals, ores and metal scrap and dates from Saudi Arabia.

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