Saudi Arabia to consider opening sovereign wealth fund office in India

    New Delhi, Sep 11 (PTI) Saudi Arabia on Monday said it is considering setting up an office of its sovereign wealth fund (SWF) in India to facilitate investments, as the two nations aim to double bilateral trade to USD 100 billion in the coming years.
    Speaking at an event here, Investment Minister of Saudi Arabia Khalid A Al Falih said that within the next few weeks, he would send a strong delegation to Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT), Gandhinagar, to explore the opportunity to open the office of SWF.
    "I will match your offer and commit today that we will open an office in India for investment facilitation...we are talking about bi-directional (facilitation)," he said here at the India-Saudi Arabia Investment Forum meeting.
    This is in response to a request by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, he added.
    GIFT City in Gujarat is a multi-purpose special economic zone for financial services.
    He said that the delegation would explore Gift City, Mumbai or New Delhi.
    The Saudi minister also offered to set up a digital and physical space in Riyadh for Indian startups to access markets, partners and funding.
    "Hopefully in the next few weeks, we will create a joint agreement between our national venture capital fund and their counterpart in India to channel venture capital and funding to startups that will have the opportunity to leverage our two markets," he said.
    Saudi investments in India stood at USD 3.22 billion during April 2000-June 2023.
    Meanwhile, India's Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said New Delhi and Riyadh can look at doubling bilateral trade to USD 100 billion in the coming years from about USD 52 billion at present.
    He said the two countries can also look at a more balanced trade.
    The minister suggested Saudi Arabia to open an office of their sovereign wealth fund in GIFT city in Gujarat and industry chamber Ficci set up an office in Riyadh in partnership with Invest India, and the commerce ministry to facilitate investments.
    "Maybe this could be a way to kick-start a better flow of trade and investments and also to see how we can double our trade, which is currently about USD 52 billion.
    "Can we be more ambitious and take it to USD 100 billion, can we look at a more balanced trade, can we look at India becoming the provider of food security to Saudi Arabia, while Saudi Arabia helps us provide more energy security like oil and fertiliser. So, it will really be a win-win and complimentary relation," Goyal said here at an event.
    India's exports to Saudi Arabia have increased to USD 10.72 billion in 2022-23 from USD 8.8 billion in 2021-22. Imports, on the other hand, have increased to USD 42 billion in 2022-23 from USD 34.1 billion in 2021-22, mainly on the back of oil shipments.
    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud is currently on a state visit to India after the G20 Summit concluded on Sunday. He is accompanied by a delegation of ministers and businesses.
    About 50 MoUs worth USD 3.5 billion between India and Saudi Arabia have been inked.
    India and Saudi Arabia on Monday signed an agreement for cooperation in the field of energy and promote bilateral investments, an official statement said.
    "The memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was signed in the national capital on September 10," the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) said.
    The signatories to the pact were Union Minister for New & Renewable Energy and Power RK Singh and Minister of Energy for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, the statement said.
    According to the MoU, India and Saudi Arabia will cooperate in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, hydrogen, electricity and grid interconnection between the two countries, petroleum, natural gas, strategic petroleum reserves and energy security.
    Khalid said that both countries have opportunities for investments.
    The announcement of economic corridor, linking India through the middle east, is going to be the new corridor that is equivalent of the silk and spice road, he said, adding this is going to be more significant and relevant because its about new energy, connectivity and human resources.
    He added that there is no timeline for the USD 100 billion investment in India and the projects announced earlier are "still possible".
    Saudi Arabia is looking to invest in different sectors, such as new energy, oil, gas, petrochemicals, manufacturing and defence, Khalid.
    The future lies with the young people, the startups, innovators and entrepreneurs and "we need to ensure that we don’t give all of our attention only to big national champions, MNCs. We work to create fertile ground for entrepreneurship as in the next 10-15 years some of them will become our national champions for both the nations", he noted.
    The most important driver going forward for both the countries are their talent and human resource.
    "Look at the combination of Saudi Arabia and India, we have scale, skill, and our human resources, our management capabilities, we have capital, and we have a long term vision that will align all of the resources that we have," he said.
    In terms of attractiveness, the Saudi minister said that the two countries should aim to get into "top 10 if not top 5".

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)