New Delhi: Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, on Sunday said it is committed to meet India’s requirements of petroleum products, an affirmation that came in the wake of the country pitching for easing global output cuts to rein in surging oil prices.
In an interview to PTI, Saudi ambassador Dr Saud bin Mohammed Al Sati also said that Saudi Arabia made investments worth USD 2.81 billion in India in 2020 and is looking at a greater momentum in bilateral economic ties in areas like petroleum, renewable energy, IT and artificial intelligence.
“Saudi Arabia has remained committed to meeting the requirements of India from oil and petroleum products and our energy cooperation has been going very well. It has been further reinforced during the recent and ongoing communications between Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Minister of Energy and his counterpart Minister Dharmendra Pradhan,” Al Sati said.
His comments came in response to a question on Saudi Arabia’s position on India pressing for easing cuts in crude oil production by OPEC and OPEC Plus as high oil prices are hurting the consumption-led recovery of several countries like itself.
The OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) is an influential entity that plays a key role in policy formulations relating to crude production. The OPEC Plus comprises the OPEC countries, Russia and several other crude producers.
Talking about his country’s Vision 2030, an ambitious programme aimed at moving the country’s economy away from its dependence on oil profits, Al Sati said it provides for expansion of economic engagement with India and other strategic partners.
“The number of Indian companies investing and operating in the kingdom has been growing. In 2020, 44 new licences were issued for Indian investments.
“Saudi Arabia also had the highest FDI increase to India in 2020 with investments worth USD 2.81 billion,” he said.
“As we move to resume normal life and fully opening our economy in all sectors, we will be building on the progress achieved so far and there will be a greater momentum for our economic cooperation and mutual investments especially in the sector of renewables, IT, and artificial intelligence,” he said.
The envoy said Saudi Arabia’s strategic partnership with India expands over diverse areas and health cooperation stands out as one of the most important aspects of the ties.
“Health cooperation will continue as an important area of focus in our bilateral cooperation. In the wake of the pandemic and its economic, social and health impact, our cooperation has continued to grow,” he said.
Al Sati said Saudi Arabia maintained the supply chains of goods and medical-related products uninterrupted notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic, adding his country facilitated the supply of medical oxygen to various entities in India.
“We will continue to extend all forms of possible support to India and its friendly people to overcome the current COVID-9 challenge. I am confident that India has the resolve and capacity to deal with the current challenge of COVID-19 and this crisis shall wane out shortly,” he said.
Referring to the Vision 2030, Al Sati said Saudi Arabia has been diversifying its oil-driven economy under the programme as envisioned by its architect Crown Prince Salman.
“During the State visit of Crown prince to India in 2019, Saudi Arabia agreed to align Vision 2030 and its 13 Vision Realisation Programmes with India’s initiatives of ‘Make in India’, ‘Start-Up India’, ‘Smart Cities’, and ‘Digital India’,” he said.
In February 2019, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that Saudi Arabia would invest over USD 100 billion in India in petrochemicals, refining, infrastructure, mining and manufacturing, agriculture and several other sectors.
“In our endeavour to reform and achieve our Vision 2030 strategic goals, we have created immense opportunities and a conducive business environment for our strategic partners” he added.
In the last five years, he said, Saudi Arabia’s non-oil revenues have increased by 222 percent while the maturity rate of digital government services increased from 60 percent to 81.3 percent and Saudi women’s participation in the workforce increased from 19.4 percent to 33.2 percent.
He said the IMF’s projections painted a positive picture, estimating Saudi Arabia’s real GDP growth at 4.8 percent, the real non-oil GDP growth recovery at 3.6 percent, and the real oil GDP growth to reach 6.8 percent in 2022.
As part of the commitment to combat climate change, he said, the kingdom has encouraged the concept of a circular carbon economy, adopted by the G20, and expanded its solar, hydrogen and ammonia projects.
“Saudi Arabia hopes to obtain 50 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030. This comes alongside the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives, designed to boost vegetation, reduce carbon emissions, and combat pollution and land degradation,” Al Sati said.
He said the last five years have witnessed tremendous changes in Saudi Arabia as the country has been going through a historic transformation.
“Diverse reforms have been introduced in laws, regulations, and procedures, in cooperation with more than 50 government entities, and coordination with the private sector,” he said.
“Saudi Arabia has streamlined and automated administrative procedures and data sharing among various entities, making it possible for investors and entrepreneurs to start their businesses electronically,” he added.