Saudi Arabia considering to open its sovereign wealth fund office in India to facilitate investments

New Delhi: 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 $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.

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 $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 $100 billion in the coming years from about $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 $52 billion.

“Can we be more ambitious and take it to $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 $10.72 billion in 2022-23 from $8.8 billion in 2021-22. Imports, on the other hand, have increased to $42 billion in 2022-23 from $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 $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 MoU between the Govt of the Republic of India and the Govt of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was signed in the national capital on September 10,” the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy said.

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