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Saudi official says Gulf Kingdom considers Pakistan a high priority business opportunity

Islamabad: A senior Saudi official on Monday said that the oil-rich Gulf Kingdom’s government and companies consider Pakistan a high priority economic, investment and business opportunity.

Saudi Deputy Investment Minister Ibrahim Almubarak made the remarks while addressing a two-day Pakistan-Saudi Arabia Investment Conference, which began here on Monday. A 50-member Saudi business delegation is in Pakistan to attend the event.

Almubarak said his country “believes in the economic potential of Pakistan” including its demography, location and natural resources, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

He said Pakistan is a major strategic partner for Saudi Arabia.

Referring to the “fraternal ties” rooted deep in common faith, culture and shared values, the official said, “we want to see Pakistan as one of our leading international partners.” The Saudi minister said that “the gathering provides an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the great opportunity available for investment in Pakistan.” He expressed his confidence that the public and private sectors of both the countries can take their partnership to the next level.

Almubarak mentioned that Saudi Arabia is a home to about two million Pakistanis who have contributed significantly to the Gulf Kingdom’s vision 2030.

On his part, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb expressed the government’s “commitment to fully facilitate the private sector to take the country towards export-led growth”.

The Pakistan government was focused on bringing foreign direct investment to uplift various sectors, he said.

Giving an overview of the country’s economic situation, the finance minister claimed it was on a positive trajectory. He said that the cash-strapped country’s current account deficit will be less than a billion dollars during the ongoing fiscal year.

He said the country’s foreign exchange reserves have risen to $9 billion, adding that the local currency was stable over the last ten months while the inflation was down to roughly seventeen percent.

He said foreign investors were also entering the Pakistan Stock Exchange.

The finance minister reiterated that Pakistan was seeking a “larger and longer programme” with the IMF for permanence in the macroeconomic stability and structural reforms. He confirmed that the IMF mission was expected in Pakistan in the “next seven to ten days” to discuss the contours of the new plan.

Addressing a news conference on the sidelines of the event, Petroleum Minister Musadik Malik emphasised that the private sector of both countries should participate in infrastructure development, which he said was pivotal in unleashing assets and wealth of both the countries, according to Radio Pakistan.

He also encouraged collaboration between the two countries in various sectors, including mines and minerals, tourism and agriculture.

Malik also said the government is doing its best to “do away with red-tapism” and minimise regulations to ensure a conducive environment for commerce and a level playing field for investors.

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

He said that both nations are enthusiastically discussing joint ventures and collaboration in diverse sectors, with Saudi Arabia having, “evinced interest and trust in the economy of Pakistan”.

The commerce minister said the present government aims to promote businesses to steer the economy in the right direction. He added that a Pakistani delegation will visit the Kingdom but did not give a date.

National Coordinator of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) Lt Gen Sarfraz Ahmad expressed his gratitude to the Saudi leadership for always extending unwavering support to Pakistan.

The Saudi delegation is also set to meet various business leaders and government officials to explore investment opportunities. Pakistan has been trying to lure in investment from the kingdom to revive its sinking economy which is dependent on the International Monetary Fund for survival.

Published 06 May 2024, 13:51 IST