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Pakistan, India hope to reap investment from Saudi prince's visit

Reuters  |  NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD 

By Miglani and Drazen Jorgic

NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Crown is expected to announce investments in and infrastructure during a visit to and in coming days as part of his efforts to wean the Saudi economy off exports.

He is also expected to visit China, and during a tour that will be his first through the region since the storm over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Post columnist, at the in October.

Mohammed is expected to sign agreements, mostly linked to a refinery and the power sector, during the trip to this weekend, Pakistani officials said.

The memorandums of understanding will include projects and investments in petrochemicals and mineral resources, Saudi state agency SPA said.

The is expected in next week, along with leading Saudi businessmen, at the invitation of Narendra Modi, India's foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Pakistani was among a handful of leaders who attended an investment conference in in October, an event boycotted by many companies and world leaders in protest over Khashoggi's killing.

India's Modi met the prince in November, when they were both in for a Group of 20 summit. is India's top supplier of but the two countries have expanded ties beyond energy, and their governments have agreed to build a strategic partnership, the foreign ministry said.

In a statement, it cited cooperation in areas including security, trade and investment, infrastructure, defence and security.

is expecting Prince Mohammed to announce an initial investment in its (NIIF), a quasi-sovereign wealth fund, to help accelerate the building of ports and highways, an Indian said.

Saudi said Saudi officials will discuss an investment in NIIF.

has also flagged a desire to invest in India's farm sector, with products to be exported to Saudi, another at the trade ministry said.

REFINERY HITCH

However, progress on a $44 billion refinery that Indian state-run companies agreed to build with on has been held up by strong opposition from mango farmers who will lose their land.

Since taking office in 2014, Modi has sought to use India's fast-growing economy to attract more investment from Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations.

As a fellow Muslim country, has long maintained strong ties with Saudi Arabia. In late October, offered Pakistan a $6 billion loan to help keep its ailing economy afloat.

Saudi Arabia has also announced plans for a $10 billion refinery and petrochemical complex at the coastal city of Gwadar, where is building a port as part of its vast Belt and Road initiative.

"They're looking at the energy sector, at some of our privatisation plans that they might bid for through our privatisation process," Pakistani investment told

Sharif, who chairs Pakistan's Board of Investment, said there was also Saudi interest in Pakistan's sector.

"Saudi Arabia has huge resources. Their investment fund is over $1 trillion, so we want just a fraction of that," said a second Pakistani minister, who did not wish to be named.

Saudi state said Saudi officials will discuss investments with China, and Indonesia, in sectors including and telecommunications, without giving further details.

(Additional reporting by and Rajendra Jadhav, and in ; Writing by Miglani; Editing by and Frances Kerry)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, February 12 2019. 19:27 IST
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