Pak business delegation explores trade opportunities in Saudi Arabia

A high-level delegation of 21 leading Pakistani businessmen left for Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to participate in a business-to-business (B2B) conference in Riyadh, organized by the commerce ministers of both countries. The delegation was headed by Federal Minister for Commerce, Industries, Investment and Interior Dr Gohar Ejaz, who said he aimed to give a boost to the bilateral trade and investment relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Dr Ejaz told The News that Pakistan was facing a trade deficit of $20 billion with Saudi Arabia, the biggest economy in the Gulf region, and that he would try to increase exports through B2B trade on a large scale. He said the delegation comprised of top business groups from various sectors of the economy, such as textiles, chemicals, engineering, IT, pharmaceuticals, and logistics. He said the Pakistani entrepreneurs would try to make business contracts with their Saudi counterparts and explore new avenues of cooperation.

He said the B2B conference was the first and largest of its kind and that it was a result of the efforts of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who visited Saudi Arabia in May 2023 and met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He said the two leaders agreed to enhance the economic partnership between the two countries and to facilitate the private sector engagement. He said the B2B conference was a follow-up of that agreement and that it would pave the way for more trade and investment opportunities in the future.

Saudi Arabia offers huge potential for Pakistani exports and investments

Dr Ejaz said Saudi Arabia was undergoing a rapid transformation under the Vision 2030, which aimed to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil. He said Saudi Arabia was investing heavily in various sectors, such as renewable energy, tourism, entertainment, and technology, and that it was looking for foreign partners and investors to join its development journey. He said Pakistan had a lot to offer to Saudi Arabia in terms of skilled manpower, quality products, and competitive prices.

He said Pakistan had a huge potential to export its goods and services to Saudi Arabia, especially in the fields of textiles, leather, surgical instruments, sports goods, fruits and vegetables, rice, and meat. He said Pakistan could also benefit from the Saudi market for IT and software development, as well as for engineering and construction projects. He said Pakistan could also attract Saudi investments in its special economic zones, industrial parks, and infrastructure projects.

He said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had a long-standing and brotherly relationship, based on mutual trust and respect. He said the two countries had a strong political and strategic cooperation, but that their economic ties did not reflect their true potential. He said the B2B conference was an attempt to bridge that gap and to bring the two countries closer on the economic front. He said he hoped that the conference would result in concrete outcomes and tangible benefits for both sides.

Pak-Saudi Tech House project to foster innovation and entrepreneurship

Dr Ejaz said he was also looking forward to meeting with Prince Fahad bin Mansour, the deputy minister of interior of Saudi Arabia, who announced a $100 million Pak-Saudi Tech House project in January 2023 at the Future Fest in Pakistan. He said the project was a joint initiative to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the IT sector and to create a strategic partnership between IT firms and enterprises based in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

He said the project was in line with the Vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia, which aimed to create a vibrant digital ecosystem and to become a global leader in technology. He said the project was also aligned with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who wanted to make Pakistan a hub of IT and innovation and to empower its youth and women. He said the project would provide a platform for collaboration, mentorship, and investment for the IT startups and entrepreneurs from both countries.

He said he was impressed by the progress and achievements of the project so far and that he would discuss the future plans and prospects with Prince Fahad bin Mansour. He said he was confident that the project would create a win-win situation for both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and that it would contribute to the economic growth and social development of both nations.

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