Trade talks between the Kingdom and Pakistan began on Sunday at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad with a focus on business opportunities in the two countries.
The Saudi team focused on the business opportunities available in the Kingdom for foreign investors and sought suggestions from its counterpart to improve the bilateral trade with Pakistani businessmen.
On the Pakistani side, businessmen and Pakistani companies, institutions and economic bodies were present to discuss ways to enhance trade and economic relations and to identify the investment opportunities available in both countries.
The bilateral talks centered on the investment opportunities in the five major sectors of the economy such as agro-food, including rice, red meat, dates, petrochemical, training, plastics, and energy projects, including solar energy.
In his opening remarks, Ali Al-Munajem, chairman of the Saudi-Pakistani Business Council, said the two countries enjoyed excellent bilateral relations.
Historic trade, and the religious and complimentary nature of economic needs have established strong ties between the two countries.
Exchange of high-level visits between the two countries have further strengthened bilateral relations. Pakistan’s president and prime minister have visited Saudi Arabia on a number of occasions. Saudi leaders have also visited Pakistan many times. For instance, King Saud visited Pakistan in 1954, King Faisal in 1966 and 1974, and King Khalid in 1976. Similarly, King Fahd as crown prince visited Pakistan in 1980 and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah in his then capacity as crown prince in 1984, 1997, 1998 and 2003.
During his first tour to Asia, King Abdullah included Pakistan as his final destination; five agreements and MoUs were signed covering the topics of political, economic, educational and scientific-cum-technical cooperation.
Currently, Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, is in Islamabad on a goodwill mission.
The Kingdom is among top 15 major export destinations of Pakistani products. Annual bilateral trade between the two countries is about $4 billion. The Kingdom is among the top 20 major importer of Pakistani products.
Major items of exports from Pakistan are synthetic textiles, and leather garments, furniture, carpets and rugs, footwear, sports goods and surgical goods, rice, fish, fruits, vegetables, spices, biscuits, jams, juices, etc.
Pakistan mainly imports petroleum products from Saudi Arabia. The other items of import, though small in quantity, includes petrochemicals, organic chemical products, plastics and its products, fertilizers, steel products, electrical equipment and materials, raw skins, tanned leather, boilers and heavy equipment, copper and copper products, aluminum and its products, inorganic chemicals, components, precious metals, steel castings, tractors, floor coverings of man made fibers, specialized type of chemical products, rubber and rubber products, paper and hardboard.
Moreover, food imports were 16 percent of import values, and textiles and clothes 8 percent. The scenario of imports has not been changed since 1981 when foodstuffs contributed 11 percent of import values, and transport, electrical and mechanical equipment around 40 percent taken together.
The welcome address was delivered by Acting President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Shaukat Ahmed, while Omar Bahlaiwa, secretary general of the international trade committee of the Council of Saudi Chambers gave a presentation of Saudi products and services.
The Kingdom is host to more than a million Pakistani expatriate workers, who are engaged in the Kingdom’s development. Saudi Arabia receives about 200,000 Haj pilgrims and 500,000 Umrah pilgrims from Pakistan every year.