Saudi Arabia’s investment in Pakistan’s power sector will help the country reduce its energy costs, said Adviser for Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood.
Addressing participants of the Pak Saudi Business Conference in Islamabad Monday morning, the adviser thanked the Saudi government for making huge investments in the country. He said this will be followed by investment in power and minerals.
I want to clarify that Pakistan is not a low-cost country in the energy sector, said Dawood, adding that our energy costs are very high. “We are looking for way to reduce our costs and the most viable way is through renewable energy, be it wind or solar,” he said.
Here is where Saudi investors are coming forward in a very, very positive way, he said. Through their investment, Pakistan will be able to bring down its energy costs, he explained.
Renewable is 4% of our total energy production right now and we want to take it up to 30%, said the adviser.
He also said that the country welcomes any major investments from the Far East in the mining and mineral development sector as the sector is still in the rudimentary stages. The other areas the government is hoping to get investment in are the agriculture and food sectors.
We have a large group of talented Pakistan and is nothing would be better than to see the development of joint ventures, said Dawood. We value our local parties as much as we value our Saudi investors, he assured Pakistani businessmen.
However, he also took the time to assure the Saudis that they will be given a level playing field vis-à-vis Pakistani investors and other nationals who have already invested in Pakistan.
In relation to the meeting with the Saudi minister of trade, he said they are looking at various options, such as a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council and removal of trade restrictions placed on Pakistan years ago so that “our businessmen have a wider field to operate on”.
Saudi Minister of Trade and Investment Majed bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi said in order for this business relationship to flourish, both countries need to do a lot it terms of marketing, understanding each other and bringing issues to the table, from opportunities to challenges, to bureaucratic challenges that both face.
“I can assure you that through such dialogue and constructive conversation all these problems will be resolved,” he said. He lamented that the trade volume between the two countries is “very moderate” only $3.7 billion a year, with a moderate 15% increase last year.
“This is a moderate figure between two countries that could do much, much more,” he said. There are lots of opportunities in Pakistan, said Al-Qasabi, adding that these opportunities need to be marketed correctly and more investors need to be attracted on both sides.
“We need to be frank and honest and discuss issues and challenges and real opportunities,” he said, adding that once this dialogue is established, it will bear fruit.
He invited the participants of the conference to Saudi Arabia with a “constructed established list of issues and challenges that could be addressed”.
“Through such dialogue we can enhance bilateral, economic, social and multinational relations,” he said.
Al-Qasabi ended his address by saying Prime Minister Imran Khan has proven to be a genuine and sincere sales agent for Pakistan, a role they are hoping will recur in every leader to come.