India and Saudi Arabia on Sunday affirmed their commitment to take their relationship to the next level and be strategic partners for promoting peace, stability and economic development.
While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on the second day of his visit to Saudi Arabia, termed Saudi Arabia a strategic partner and invited Saudi funds to India in a number of sectors, top political leaders of Saudi Arabia also agreed that vast potential in trade and investment still needed to be tapped.
Three key Saudi Arabian Ministers — Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Oil and Natural Gas — met Dr. Singh and there are indications that a number of joint ventures and investments could come in fields such as petrochemicals, fertilisers, healthcare and information technology.
“Most importantly, Saudi dignitaries saw India as a safe and secure destination for investments and favoured substantial increases in investment in India,” senior officials said here. Both sides expressed satisfaction that bilateral trade had touched $ 26 billion and was further set to rise. Aramco, the Saudi petrochemical giant, has accessed goods and services worth $ 400 million from India.
Dr. Singh pointed out to Saudi dignitaries and Ministers that both the countries already had a double taxation avoidance agreement and bilateral investment protection agreement. A joint commission also exists and the two sides are keen to finalise an India-Gulf Cooperation Council Free Trade Agreement (GCC-FTA) which will further boost India’s trade with GCC members.