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September 7, 2018

Pakistan asks Saudi Arabia to invest in petroleum sector


September 7, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has asked Saudi Arabia to invest several billion dollars in crude oil and petrochemicals refineries in order to help Islamabad reduce its $4-5 billion a year energy import bill.

“We have identified the possibility of three oil refineries keeping in view the future requirements of Pakistan. Saudi Arabia’s investors can bring expertise into the oil refinery and petrochemical sectors, as part of our bid to reduce the burden of the import bill,” Federal Secretary Commerce Younus Dagha told The News here on Thursday.

“We are focusing on trading issues in order to reduce our trade deficit,” he said. Dagha said progress had been on exploiting Pakistan's potential to export meat, vegetables and fruit to the Saudi market.

The Pak-Saudi Joint Working Group (JWG) on Trade and Investment was constituted at the 11th session of the Pak-Saudi Joint Ministerial Commission, held at Islamabad in January 2018, with a view to enhancing bilateral economic cooperation through identifying concrete and specific areas in trade and investment.

The second meeting of the JWG was held at Islamabad on Wednesday. Dagha and his Saudi counterpart, Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade Abdulrahman Alharbi, co-chaired the session.

It was attended by Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki, the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, and officials from the Saudi ministries of Commerce and Investment, Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, the leading global petrochemical manufacturer SABIC and Maaden, the Saudi Arabian Mining Company.

Pakistan was also represented by officials from the ministries of Commerce, Energy and National Food Security, the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and Board of Investment.

Dagha emphasized that the Government of Pakistan desires that the long and historic relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia should be translated into an enhanced economic partnership.

He invited the Saudi government and private sector to invest in the oil refining, petrochemicals and food processing industries in Pakistan. After the JWG deliberations, officials from the Petroleum Division and leading private sector companies presented their project proposals.

Further to discussions at the first JWG meeting, officials took up the resolution of non- tariff barriers, facilitating business visas, and the activation of the joint Pak-Saudi Business Council. They also reviewed logistic arrangements for a single-country Pakistan exhibition in Jeddah.

Deputy minister Alharbi said elaborated that the Kingdom desires to have a close economic partnership with Pakistan and the two countries could cooperate and form joint ventures in petrochemicals, food processing and other sectors.

The Saudi delegation also included six businessmen from the petrochemical and food sectors. They met with executives of Pakistani companies from the meat, poultry, fruit and vegetables, rice and petrochemical trades on Thursday.

The companies presented details of their meat and food processing plants, which adhere Saudi standards and have been registered by the Saudi Food and Drug Agency. The Saudi side expressed keen interest in the prospective investment projects and trade proposals. The two sides agreed to take further steps to expedite them.

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