Pakistan is Riyadh’s priority for investment and trade, Saudi minister tells PM

Published April 29, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets with Saudi Commerce Minister Majid Al Kasabi on the sidelines of the special meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Riyadh. — PID
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets with Saudi Commerce Minister Majid Al Kasabi on the sidelines of the special meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Riyadh. — PID
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets with Saudi Commerce Minister Majid Al Kasabi on the sidelines of the special meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Riyadh. — Radio Pakistan
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets with Saudi Commerce Minister Majid Al Kasabi on the sidelines of the special meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Riyadh. — Radio Pakistan

In a meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Saudi Commerce Minister Majid Al Kasabi on Monday said Pakistan was the kingdom’s “priority” for investment and trade as per the directives of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Radio Pakistan reported.

The meeting between the two took place on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) special meeting in Riyadh.

The Saudi minister said targets were being set to increase bilateral economic and trade relations between the two countries in the next 12-18 months, the report added.

Al Kasabi further said a delegation of the Saudi business community would visit Pakistan soon.

Acknowledging the role of Pakistanis in the development and prosperity of Saudi Arabia, the minister emphasised inculcating the sentiments of Saudi-Pak friendship among the youth of both countries, Radio Pakistan stated.

On the occasion, PM Shehbaz said economic ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had entered a new era, with bilateral trade volume poised for a “significant increase” due to steps taken by both nations, the report added.

The premier highlighted that the Special Investment Facilitation Council was actively promoting foreign investment and facilitating investors.

PM discusses ‘tireless’ polio efforts with Bill Gates

 PM Shehbaz Sharif meets with billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates on the sidelines of the WEF special meeting in Riyadh. — PID
PM Shehbaz Sharif meets with billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates on the sidelines of the WEF special meeting in Riyadh. — PID

Separately, in a meeting with billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates — also on the WEF summit’s sidelines — PM Shehbaz said Pakistan was working tirelessly to eradicate polio.

According to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the premier thanked Gates — the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) — for sending a “warm congratulatory letter” upon his re-election.

“While fondly recalling their interactions during his previous tenure, the prime minister reaffirmed his commitment to continue working closely with Gates to ensure a stronger partnership between” Pakistan and the BMGF, the statement said.

“The prime minister said Pakistan was working tirelessly to eradicate polio from the country. He thanked the BMGF for its longstanding support for polio eradication in Pakistan and said that a sustained effort was required by all partners to reach the ultimate goal of a polio-free Pakistan,” it added.

Meanwhile, Gates recalled the immunisation and polio vaccine programme in the Punjab under Shehbaz’s leadership as chief minister and “emphasised on replicating the same practice across the country” to make the immunisation programme a success.

He also acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts and said polio eradication was vital to protect future generations from the crippling disease.

In addition to polio, the two also discussed progress on ongoing activities between Pakistan and the BMGF in the areas of immunisation, nutrition, and financial inclusion, the PMO said.

“The prime minister said the Gates Foundation was a trusted partner in Pakistan’s socio-economic development and sought collaboration in other areas including IT, STEM education and disaster management,” the statement added.

Recalling Gates’ visit to Pakistan in February 2022, PM Shehbaz also extended an invitation to him to visit Pakistan again at a time of his convenience.

PM secures more investment assurances from Riyadh, meets IMF chief

Over a hectic working weekend, PM Shehbaz on Sunday secured assurances on investment from Saudi Arabia and won plaudits from his hosts, who dubbed him “a man of action”.

The premier also met Crown Prince Salman, Minister for Investment Khalid Al-Falih, Minister for Finance Mohammad Al Jadaan and Minister for Industry Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhourayef in separate engagements on Sunday.

At a gala dinner hosted by the Saudi crown prince, the PM thanked him for sending a high-powered delegation to Pakistan led by Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah.

To continue discussions, the prime minister said that he had brought a high-powered delegation to Riyadh, including key ministers responsible for investment, so that follow-up meetings could take place between the relevant officials.

Earlier, Saudi Minister for Investment Khalid Al-Falih praised PM Shehbaz as being “a man of action”, saying: “We are all aware of your performance and speed of work… Your mission is our mission.”

Meanwhile, the Gulf country’s finance minister said that a delegation of Saudi investors would soon visit Pakistan.

Pakistan was a priority for their investment and Saudi Arabia would continue to fully cooperate in the fields of agriculture, information technology and energy, he said.

The premier met the Saudi minister for industry, who expressed keen interest in collaborating with Pakistan in the fields of agriculture, mining, information technology and other areas.

The minister said he was in contact with the private Saudi companies regarding investment in Pakistan and the representatives of these companies would soon visit Pakistan.

PM Shehbaz also met International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on the sidelines of the WEF meeting, where he reiterated his government’s commitment to put Pakistan’s economy back on track.

In a post on X, the IMF chief said she had a very productive meeting with PM Shehbaz. “We discussed policy reforms and strong decisions to address [Pakis­tan’s] challenges and create stronger sustained and more inclusive growth for the benefit all Pakistanis,” she wrote.

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