KARACHI: Saudi Advisor for Energy & Mineral Resources Ahmad Al Ghamdi has said that for Saudi Arabia, Pakistan was not just a foreign country but a brotherly country with strong relations, similar religion, traditions and cultures.
“Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have historical relations but unfortunately these relations became stagnant for some time but lately, both countries have made good efforts to make these relations stronger than before.
We would like to do a lot of things together but it will require time”, he added while exchanging views at a meeting during the visit of a Saudi business delegation to Karachi Chamber.
Commercial Attaché of Saudi Embassy in Pakistan M. Ahmed Asiri, President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda, Senior Vice President Khurram Shahzad, Vice President Asif Sheikh Javaid, Saudi delegates and KCCI Managing Committee Members attended the meeting.
Saudi Advisor suggested that the business communities of both countries will have to meet more frequently and participate in trade promotional events being staged in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which would result in further strengthening the relations.
He said that Saudi private sector was unaware about the opportunities and they are scared of making investments in Pakistan due to security concerns.
“If we keep saying Pakistan is safe and secure, they will not believe us but if someone from Pakistani government comes and guarantees about the safety and security, besides extending full support of the Pakistani government, Saudi investors will certainly get a strong signal that they can come here and make investment in a very pleased environment”, he added.
Ahmad Al Ghamdi said that Saudi Arabia was interested in undertaking renewable energy projects in Pakistan and hopefully, a Saudi company, Aqua Power will soon be visiting Pakistan to introduce its renewable energy technologies including solar, wind and other technologies.
“We have also discussed the investment opportunities in Pakistan’s mining sector and in this regard, a Memorandum of Understanding is at final stage which will soon be signed between both the countries, signifying commencement of new relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia”, he added.
While referring to a recent meeting of Prime Minister Imran Khan during his visit to Saudi Arabia, he said that during the said Pakistan’s Prime Minister was particularly focused on the visa issues and it has also been raised by other top leaders of Pakistan.
“Saudi Arabia is now going through a transformation as many new things and rules have been introduced which will hopefully be beneficial for Pakistan and Saudi Arabia while the ease in issuance of visas is also being discussed, particularly the tourism visa so that people could be encouraged to explore tourism in Saudi Arabia”, he added.
He further mentioned that the Saudi Ambassador in Pakistan is doing an excellent job by frequently having meetings with all Pakistani leaders and trying his best to improve ties with Pakistan. “We are succeeding well to make a good future for both the countries”, he added.
Referring to his meeting with Prime Minister’s Advisor Abdul Razzak Dawood around two months ago, Ahmad Al Ghamdi said, “During this meeting, we asked about some importation and exportation issues which were resulting in trade below the expected range.
We are trying to resolve these issues and have already formed a committee comprising of Saudi and Pakistani representatives to identify the obstacles and devise strategies on how to resolve the same with a view to make things easier.
Hopefully, we will finish that exercise soon and these obstacles will be removed for the benefit of both countries.” Saudi Advisor said, “We would like to get some of the very good Pakistani products in Saudi Arabia and would also like to improve Saudi exports to Pakistan as we want to create a win-win situation for both countries.”
Earlier President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda while welcoming the Saudi delegates informed that a delegation from Karachi Chamber, being led by himself, will be departing for Saudi Arabia on January 12, 2019 to explore opportunities of enhancing trade.
He stated that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia share healthy bilateral relations based on cooperation in different economic spheres particularly in trade and investment. In recent years, both countries have exchanged high-level delegations and developed plans to expand bilateral cooperation in trade, education, real estate, tourism, information technology, communications and agriculture.
He also appreciated Saudi government for providing $3 billion foreign currency support to Pakistan for a year to address Pakistan’s Balance of Payments crisis and a one year deferred payment facility for import of oil, worth up to another $3 billion which the business and industrial community of Karachi warmly welcomes.
He mentioned that during 2017, goods worth $400.8 million were exported to Saudi Arabia while the imports stood at $2.73 billion, indicating trade balance in favor of Saudi Arab by $2.32 billion.
While highlighting the huge potential to enhance trade and investment ties, Junaid Makda informed the Saudi delegates that Pakistan’s investment policy provides a comprehensive framework for creating a conducive business environment.
It entails reducing the cost of doing business, reducing the processes of doing business, and emphasizes on creation of industrial clusters and Special Economic Zones.
Saudi companies can choose between setting-up a liaison office, branch office or incorporate a Pakistani company as either its wholly owned subsidiary or joint venture with a Pakistani / overseas partner, he added. He further mentioned that Karachi and Sindh can offer a host of opportunities in many potential sectors including food processing, dairy production and processing, coal mining and mineral extraction, sea food processing, Urban Rapid Transport, date and mango farming and processing, wind and solar energy. “It is the right time for investors to invest in Pakistan and capitalize on the widespread opportunities available”, he stressed.
Underscoring the need to make collective efforts, he suggested signing a Memorandum of Understanding between KCCI and its peer Chambers in Saudi Arabia in order to pave way for improved trade relations between the two countries.
Seeking details about the import and export policy of Saudi Arabia, President KCCI said that Pakistani exporters have been facing hardships due to delays in clearance of goods at Saudi Ports which takes up to 10 days and causes losses to Pakistani exporters.
“Saudi Authorities are requested to expedite the clearance process at ports that would pave way for improved trade volume”, he added.
He also stressed the need to ease visa policies for Pakistanis, particularly the business visa as it becomes very difficult for the business and industrial community of Pakistan to improve ties with their Saudi counterparts due to complex visa issuance procedures which need to be simplified.