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MBS and Modi discuss expanding trade goals as Saudi-India ties grow

The two leaders attended the Saudi-Indian Strategic Partnership Council where they convened on various fields of cooperation and reviewed regional and international topics of mutual interest.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shakes hand with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman ahead of the G20 Leaders' Summit in New Delhi on September 9, 2023. (Photo by Evan Vucci / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EVAN VUCCI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

DUBAI — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks over trade ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in New Delhi on Monday after wrapping up the G20 Summit, and as ties grow between the two countries.

The two leaders attended the Saudi-Indian Strategic Partnership Council at the state guest house of the Indian prime minister, the Hyderabad House, in New Delhi where they convened on various fields of cooperation and reviewed regional and international topics of mutual interest, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). 

Modi described the talks as “very productive” via his personal Twitter account and highlighted areas of synergy with the kingdom.  

“The scope for cooperation in grid connectivity, renewable energy, food security, semiconductors and supply chains is immense,” Modi wrote on Twitter Monday. 

The meeting was attended by a delegation of senior officials including Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and the kingdom’s Minister of Investment Khalid al-Falih, among others. 

Falih announced that his country would consider establishing an office of its sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, in India’s tax-neutral financial services center, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City. The Saudi investment minister made the comment after India’s trade minister, Piyush Goyal, invited the kingdom to do so. Goyal said he would also suggest that his ministry develop a similar investment office in Riyadh. 

In addition, the Saudi Export-Import Bank (Saudi EXIM) and the India Export-Import Bank (India EXIM) signed a memorandum of understanding to boost the export of products and services between the two countries and increase their mutual market presence, reported SPA on Monday.

Monday’s Saudi-Indian Strategic Partnership Council gathering took place a day after the two countries, along with the United States, European Union, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other global leaders, unveiled their multinational rail and ports deal on Saturday that aims to link the Middle East and South Asia, while at the G20 Summit. 

The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor is geared to enhance connectivity between participating countries by connecting India to the Arabian Gulf and the northern corridor connecting the Arabian Gulf to Europe, according to the state-owned Emirates News Agency (WAM).

“The cross-border ship-to-rail transit corridors will reduce shipping costs across the network and facilitate trade in goods and services to, from and between the UAE, Saudi Arabia, India and Europe,” stated WAM. 

US President Joe Biden described the agreement as a “real big deal” and views it as a counter to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which was founded in 2013 and seeks to develop new trade routes connecting China with the rest of the world. 

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