Pakistan to receive Saudi FDI of over $20 billion

By Zeeshan Ghayur
Tuesday – February 19, 2019
ISLAMABAD: Saudi crown prince, deputy prime minister (PM)/defence minister, Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS) in his farewell remarks, at the culmination of his two days’ official trip to Pakistan, on Monday said, “We feel like home in Pakistan and I hope that as an ambassador of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia I did a good duty.”

Earlier on Monday, addressing a joint press conference, Saudi foreign minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir said, “The two countries have signed mutual agreements, three of which require investments exceeding $20 billion. One is for finding mineral and energy resources while the other one is for petro-chemicals” culminating “And this is just the beginning.”

Separately, Saudi commerce minister Majid Al-Qassabi on Monday said, “Prince MBS has asked me to assure both the business communities in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that you will be a part of this new bilateral relationship, where both governments need to do a lot in terms of communication, marketing new opportunities, understanding each other and really building issues to the table from opportunities to challenges to bureaucratic challenges that we both face.”

He mentioned, “I can assure you God willing that through such dialogue and constructive intention and dedication all these problems will be resolved.”

Saudi commerce minister said, “I honestly feel that our trade volume though has reached $3.7 billion is very moderate” adding “I believe that there is a lot of opportunity in Pakistan and that we need to market the opportunities right and we need to attract investors from both sides.”

Al-Qassabi informed, “The custodian of the two holy mosques has given us the direction to bring this relationship into a strategic framework that could be understood by both leaders and that we have to work together to achieve these wishes and direction.”

He concluded, “And I can assure you that hopefully God willing we would like to invite you to Saudi Arabia to constructively establish a list of challenges and a list of issues that could be addressed and I hope that through such dialogue we will enhance bilateral, economic and social and multinational relations.”

Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi informed, “The memorandum of understandings (MoUs) signed with Saudi Arabia will fetch in phase one at least $20 billion worth of investments in the country” adding “The newly formed supreme coordination council (SCC) will oversee the investment plan and that determined timelines have been set for implementation of the same.”

He said, “10 joint working groups (JWG) have been formed to meet up every three months and that the chairing committee (CC) comprising of members of legislative assemblies will be meeting up every 6 months” adding “The leadership level will meet up at least once a year to ensure that there is a proper follow-up.”

Qureshi said, “PM had requested for lowering of the visa fees for Pakistanis visiting the Saudi kingdom which in turn has been accepted and for which a notification has been received and that the visa rates have been revised to facilitate the lower class along with the business community.”

According to an official statement the SCC includes respective ministers of foreign affairs, defense, defense production, finance, energy, petroleum, water resources, information, culture, interior, commerce, trade and investment and human resources of both countries.

The SCC will cover areas under three pillars: political and security, economic, social and culture. Under the SCC, a CC and JWGs have been set up at ministerial and senior official levels, to develop frameworks of cooperation in specific projects and submit recommendations to the respective ministers.

The functioning of the SCC will be coordinated by the ministries of foreign affairs of the two countries. The SCC will meet annually, in Riyadh and Islamabad alternately.

In his farewell remarks, MBS continued, “We believe in Pakistan’s future, Pakistan has a huge opportunity and that in 2030 Pakistan will be next to two huge economies - China will be the largest economy and India will be the third largest and so Pakistan will earn great benefit from this if the leadership exhibits determination to put Pakistan in the right direction.”

He appreciated, “We saw that in 2018 the Pakistani economy grew by five percent” adding “So we believe Pakistan will be amongst the 20 biggest economies in the near future.”

He asserted, “If the leadership, the people and the allies unite then Pakistan definitely can reach that level one day, so because of that we believe in Pakistan and because of the long relations we have had we want to be a part of that journey.”

MBS stated, “And we want to risk our money and our efforts to start with. So what we did today was the beginning and we hope that we do more and more partner projects with Pakistan and in Saudi Arabia.”

Seeing off the Saudi crown prince, PM Imran Khan said, “I especially want to thank you for the 2,100 Pakistani prisoners who were in Saudi jail, you announced this morning that the prisoners will be freed, again on behalf of the people of Pakistan I would like to thank you because most of these prisoners are from the labour class.”

Khan mentioned, “I think Pakistan’s geo-strategic location and the comparative advantage of Saudi Arabia in certain areas coupled with the advantages that Pakistan has - this combination will go very well for the future, as I said I am very happy with your trip and I would like you to consider Pakistan as your second home.”

Prior to farewell remarks by the leadership of both brotherly nations an investiture ceremony was held in which MBS was conferred with nishan-e-Pakistan, which is the highest civil award.

The ceremony was followed by banquet lunch in honour of the Saudi crown prince and his delegation, which was also attended by diplomats and business community.

Highlighting the growing economic relations, MBS and Khan witnessed the signing of a number of agreements and MoUs.