Saudi Arabia plans to establish sovereign wealth fund office in India

Narendra Modi with Saudi Crown Prince MBS.

New Delhi: Saudi Arabia has expressed its intent to establish an office for its sovereign wealth fund (SWF) in India to facilitate investments, with the goal of doubling bilateral trade to $100 billion in the near future.

The Investment Minister of Saudi Arabia, Khalid A Al Falih, announced this plan during an India-Saudi Arabia Investment Forum meeting.

He mentioned that a strong delegation would be sent to Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) in Gandhinagar to explore the possibility of opening the SWF office in India in the coming weeks, in response to a request from India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.

GIFT City, located in Gujarat, serves as a multi-purpose special economic zone for financial services, and it is one of the potential locations for the SWF office.

Additionally, the Saudi minister offered to establish a digital and physical space in Riyadh for Indian startups, enabling them to access markets, partners, and funding. He also mentioned the potential for a joint agreement between the national venture capital funds of both countries to channel venture capital and funding to startups, leveraging the two markets.

Saudi Arabia’s investments in India have reached $3.22 billion as of June 2023. Minister Goyal expressed optimism about doubling bilateral trade to $100 billion from the current $52 billion and achieving a more balanced trade relationship.

He proposed that Saudi Arabia open an SWF office in GIFT City, while Ficci (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry) establishes an office in Riyadh in partnership with Invest India and the commerce ministry to facilitate investments.

Furthermore, India’s exports to Saudi Arabia have increased to $10.72 billion in 2022-23, while imports have risen to $42 billion in the same period, primarily due to oil shipments.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud is currently on a state visit to India, and about 50 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) worth $3.5 billion have been signed between the two nations. An agreement for cooperation in the field of energy and bilateral investments was also signed between India and Saudi Arabia.

Minister Khalid highlighted the investment opportunities in various sectors, including new energy, oil, gas, petrochemicals, manufacturing, and defense. He emphasized the importance of fostering entrepreneurship, startups, and innovation, as they are expected to play a crucial role in the economic growth of both countries.

In terms of attractiveness and global rankings, both Saudi Arabia and India aim to position themselves among the top 10 or even the top 5 nations for investment and economic collaboration.

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