KARACHI: Saudi Arabia is interested in undertaking renewable energy projects in Pakistan, announced Saudi Adviser for Energy and Mineral Resources Ahmad Al-Ghamdi.
During his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), he said representatives of a Saudi company, Aqua Power, would soon be visiting Pakistan to introduce renewable energy technologies including solar, wind and other technologies.
"We have also discussed investment opportunities in Pakistan's mining sector and in this regard, a memorandum of understanding is at final stages, which will soon be signed between both the countries, signifying commencement of new relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia," the adviser said.
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If someone from the Pakistani government came and gave guarantees about safety and security, besides extending full support of the Pakistani government, Saudi investors would certainly get a strong signal that they could come here and make investment in a very pleasant environment, the adviser added. He said the Saudi private sector was unaware of the opportunities and it was scared of making investment in Pakistan due to security concerns.
The Saudi adviser suggested that business communities of both countries would have to meet more frequently and participate in the trade-promotion events being held in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which would result in further strengthening of relations.
Referring to a recent meeting held by Prime Minister Imran Khan with Saudi officials during his visit to Saudi Arabia, he said the prime minister was particularly focused on visa issues and it had also been raised by other top leaders of Pakistan.
"Saudi Arabia is now going through a transformation phase as many new things and rules have been introduced, which will hopefully be beneficial for Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The easing of visa procedures is also being discussed, particularly the tourism visa, so that people could be encouraged to explore tourism in Saudi Arabia," Ghamdi remarked.
Referring to his meeting with Prime Minister's Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood around two months ago, Ghamdi said, "During this meeting, we asked about some import and export issues, which were resulting in trade below the expected level. We are trying to resolve these issues and have already formed a committee comprising Saudi and Pakistani representatives to identify the obstacles and devise strategies on how to resolve the same."
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Speaking on the occasion, KCCI President Junaid Esmail Makda said a delegation from the Karachi Chamber, led by him, would leave for Saudi Arabia on January 12 to explore opportunities of enhancing trade. He said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had healthy bilateral relations based on cooperation in different economic spheres, particularly in trade and investment He mentioned that during 2017, goods worth $400.8 million were exported to Saudi Arabia while imports stood at $2.73 billion, indicating that the trade balance was in favour of Saudi Arabia with a surplus of $2.32 billion.
Highlighting the huge potential of enhancing trade and investment ties, Makda told Saudi delegates that Pakistan's investment policy provided a comprehensive framework for creating an environment conducive to business. It entails reducing cost of doing business, processes of doing business and emphasises on creation of industrial clusters and special economic zones.
He pointed out that Karachi and Sindh could offer a host of opportunities in many potential sectors including food processing, dairy production and processing, coal mining and mineral extraction, seafood processing, urban rapid transport, date and mango farming and processing, wind and solar energy.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2019.
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