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Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister’s Visit

  • 21 Sep 2021
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Indian External Affairs Minister met the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Key Points

  • About the Meeting:
    • Cooperation in Multilateral Forums: Discussed bilateral cooperation in multilateral forums such as the United Nations, G-20 and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
      • India is not a member of GCC.
    • Implementation of the Strategic Partnership Council Agreement (signed in 2019):
      • India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council was formed to coordinate on strategically important issues.
        • The council will be headed by the Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mo hammed and will meet every two years.
      • India is the fourth country with which Saudi Arabia has formed such a strategic partnership, after the UK, France and China.
      • Saudi Arabia has been a strategic partner of India since the signing of the Riyadh Declaration in 2010.
    • Focus on the Developments in Afghanistan and Other Regional Issues: Saudi Arabia, along with Pakistan and the UAE, were the key backers of the Taliban regime that ruled Kabul from 1996 till 2001 when they were ousted by US-led international troops.
    • Strengthening Partnership: Discussed further steps to strengthen their partnership in trade, investment, energy, defence, security, culture, consular issues, health care, and human resources.
  • India - Saudi Arabia Ties:
    • Crude oil Supplier: Saudi Arabia is currently India’s second-largest supplier of crude oil (Iraq has been India's top supplier).
      • Saudi Arabia is keen to play a role in the creation of Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPRs) at Padur in Karnataka.
      • A study is being conducted for the setting up of the world’s largest greenfield refinery at Raigarh in Maharashtra by Saudi Aramco, Adnoc of the United Arab Emirates and Indian public sector oil companies.
    • Bilateral Trade: Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trade partner (after China, USA and Japan). The bilateral trade was valued at US $33.07 billion during FY 2019-20.
      • During the same period, India's imports from Saudi Arabia reached US $26.84 billion and exports to Saudi Arabia were worth US$ 6.24 billion registering an increase of 12.18% over last year.
    • Indian Diaspora: The 2.6 million-strong Indian community in Saudi Arabia is the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom and is the ‘most preferred community’ due to their expertise, sense of discipline, law-abiding and peace-loving nature.
    • Cultural Linkages: Haj pilgrimage is another important component of bilateral relations between India and Saudi Arabia.
    • Naval Exercise: Recently, India and Saudi Arabia started their first-ever Naval joint exercise called the Al-Mohed Al-Hindi Exercise.

Way Forward

  • The trade balance between India and Saudi Arabia is highly in favour of Saudi Arabia, and India's exports are mainly restricted to the agricultural sector. There is a need for India to increase its product base to balance the trade in its favour.
    • The potential areas for the next stage of bilateral cooperation could be infrastructure, energy, skilling and IT.
  • Further, India should convince Saudi Arabia to exercise its influence over Pakistan in controlling the Taliban in Afghanistan.
    • A joint collaborative effort of both economies will transform the Southwest Asia sub-region.

Source: IE

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