Saudi Arabia sees Pakistan as a prime economic partner, aims for robust investment collaboration

Almubarak stated that Saudi Arabia recognizes Pakistan’s economic potential, citing its favourable demographics, strategic location, and natural resources.

Saudi Arabia views Pakistan as a highly promising economic, investment, and business destination, according to Ibrahim Almubarak, the Deputy Investment Minister of Saudi Arabia. Almubarak expressed these views at the two-day Pakistan Saudi Arabia Investment Conference, which commenced in Islamabad on Monday, after arriving in the capital the previous night with a delegation of Saudi investors.

Pakistan aims to attract foreign investors to boost its exports in collaboration with Saudi companies. Almubarak stated that Saudi Arabia recognizes Pakistan’s economic potential, citing its favourable demographics, strategic location, and natural resources. He emphasized that Pakistan is a major strategic partner for Saudi Arabia, and the two nations share deep-rooted “fraternal ties” based on a common faith, culture, and shared values. The Saudi minister expressed a desire to see Pakistan as one of Saudi Arabia’s leading international partners.

The conference provides an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the investment opportunities available in Pakistan, according to Almubarak. He expressed confidence that the public and private sectors of both countries can take their partnership to the next level. Almubarak noted that Saudi Arabia is home to about two million Pakistanis who have contributed significantly to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Pakistan’s Finance Minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, highlighted the government’s commitment to facilitating the private sector in driving export-led growth. He stated that the government is focused on attracting foreign direct investment to uplift various sectors. Aurangzeb claimed that Pakistan’s economy is on a positive trajectory, with the current account deficit expected to be less than $1 billion during the ongoing fiscal year. He also mentioned that the country’s foreign exchange reserves have risen to $9 billion, the local currency has remained stable over the last ten months, and inflation has decreased to around 17%.

Aurangzeb confirmed that the IMF mission is expected in Pakistan within the next seven to ten days to discuss a new, longer-term program for macroeconomic stability and structural reforms.

The Petroleum Minister, Musadik Malik, emphasized the need for the private sectors of both countries to participate in infrastructure development, which he believes is crucial for unleashing the assets and wealth of both nations. He also encouraged collaboration in various sectors, including mines and minerals, tourism, and agriculture.

Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Jam Kamal assured that the present government is committed to bringing about a change in Pakistan’s economic landscape.

The Saudi delegation, comprising dozens of investors, was welcomed by the Petroleum and Commerce Ministers upon their arrival at the Nur Khan airbase on Sunday. The purpose of the visit is to enhance trade ties between investors from both countries and identify trade and investment opportunities across various sectors of Pakistan’s national economy.

The Ministry of Commerce has identified several Pakistani companies for business-to-business (B2B) meetings with Saudi investors, targeting sectors such as agriculture, mining, human resources, energy, chemicals, and maritime. Discussions will also cover investment prospects in other sectors, including IT, religious tourism, telecom, aviation, construction, water, and power generation.

The Commerce Minister expressed optimism that several companies would be able to finalize business and investment deals during the B2B sessions, fostering greater economic cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

During a recent visit, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif held a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who agreed to expedite the first wave of a planned $5 billion Saudi investment package for Pakistan.

In September 2023, the former caretaker Prime Minister, Anwaarul Haq Kakar, claimed that the Saudi government would invest up to $25 billion in Pakistan over the next two to five years across various sectors.

According to a commerce ministry official, Saudi Arabia is an oil-based economy transforming to reduce oil dependence, diversify income sources, and enhance competitiveness under Vision 2030. Bilateral trade between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia during the first half of the current financial year stood at over $248 million, with Pakistan’s exports at $262.58 million and Saudi exports at $2.219 billion. Pakistan’s major exports to Saudi Arabia included rice, meat of bovine animals, fruits and vegetables, and tents and camping goods.