Bilateral trade witnesses a commendable growth of over 23%, exceeding USD 52 billion in 2022-23
Marking an impactful stride in Indo-Saudi relations, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud concluded his state visit to India on Monday (September 11, 2023). The visit, aimed at fortifying the strategic partnership between the two nations, witnessed discussions on a wide range of bilateral subjects, including a sharp focus on investment and trade.

In addition to holding bilateral talks, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday co-chaired the first leaders meeting of the India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) with the Saudi Crown Prince. The SPC was set up with the signing of an agreement during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia in October 2019.

During the meeting on Monday, they reviewed the progress made under the two Ministerial Committees of the SPC - the Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation and the Committee on Economy and Investments Cooperation – and their Joint Working Groups, which have deepened the strategic partnership between the two countries in diverse fields. 
According to the Joint Statement on the visit, both nations recognized their status as rapidly growing economies. India lauded Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, while the Saudi side appreciated India's vision of development by 2047, marking its centenary of independence.

The leaders underscored the potential for mutual investments across sectors such as renewable energy, agriculture, healthcare, tourism, and pharmaceuticals. Both nations anticipate accelerated investment cooperation through the investment framework cooperation program (FCP) between Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Investment and Invest India.

Echoing the essential role of the private sector in this burgeoning economic partnership, both sides urged businesses in their countries to intensify communications, realizing viable trade and investment opportunities, the statement noted.

Both nations have undertaken government initiatives to enhance their business climates, including India's efforts in easing business norms and Saudi Arabia's investments from its sovereign wealth fund. These strides in economic reform were highlighted, with both parties discussing treaties for bilateral investment, taxation avoidance, and legal assistance.

The India-Saudi Investment Forum was convened on the sidelines of this visit, further amplifying the commitment to promote trade and economic collaboration.

With bilateral trade witnessing a commendable growth of over 23%, exceeding US$ 52 billion in 2022-23, both sides acknowledged the growing trade relationship. They also highlighted their significant positions as major trade partners to each other, emphasizing the pursuit of enhanced cooperation in industrial and mining sectors.
According to information provided in the Joint Statement, talks between the two sides also covered the following areas:

Food Security and Agriculture

Both nations underscored the significance of food security as a fundamental concern. A key highlight was the warm welcome given to the expansion of private sector partnerships in the agricultural and food industries. Additionally, both sides anticipate continuing their cooperation, not only in agriculture but also in the environment, food security, and food processing sectors.

Digital Future and Space Collaboration

A strengthened partnership in the realms of communications, IT, the digital economy, and space sectors is on the horizon. An enhanced collaboration is set to ensure a brighter digital future for both nations. Further, ongoing initiatives between their respective space agencies were mutually appreciated, reflecting the depth of their collaboration in space exploration and research

Transport and Logistics

A significant emphasis was placed on the importance of mutual cooperation in these sectors, especially regarding air transport and ports, ensuring benefits for both nations.

Health Initiatives

The two nations expressed a collective desire to enhance health cooperation, directly address pandemics, and confront emerging health risks. In a nod to Saudi Arabia's proactive stance on health, the Indian side acknowledged the upcoming Fourth Ministerial Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance, which Saudi Arabia is set to host in November 2024.

Defence and Security

The defence and security sector witnessed commendations for deepening cooperation, including the success of joint exercises, training, and high-level visits. The Joint Naval Exercise ‘Al Mohed Al Hindi’ conducted in 2021 and 2023 was particularly hailed.

Furthermore, looking towards the future, both nations are keen on expanding their collaborative efforts in areas like cyber security, maritime security, and combating transnational crimes.

Cultural and Tourism Exchanges

Both sides expressed enthusiasm for promoting tourism, with a special focus on sustainable practices. Saudi Arabia expressed gratitude to India for restoring e-visas for its citizens. Furthermore, enhancing cultural exchanges and fortifying people-to-people contacts is a mutual objective, fostering deeper ties between their societies.

Education, Media, and Employment

The countries are especially eager to cultivate relationships between their universities and scientific institutions. On the media front, the collaboration is set to expand, encapsulating diverse mediums like radio, television, and news agencies. The horizon also looks promising for bolstering cooperation in labour and human resources, with initiatives like skills verification programs in the pipeline.

Economic Initiative

Both nations confirmed their support for the Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the DSSI. Moreover, a commitment was made to amplify coordination within influential global economic forums, notably the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

During the visit, eight Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were exchanged, encompassing areas from energy and digitization to investment and seawater desalination. These documents signify a shared commitment to foster mutual growth.