From September 9-11, 2023, the His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister (PM) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, paid a State visit to India on the invitation of Prime Minister (PM) of India Narendra Modi. This marks the Prince’s 2nd State visit to India, His Royal Highness earlier visited India on a State Visit in February 2019.
- The overarching context of his visit was to strengthen bilateral relations and strategic partnership between India and Saudi Arabia.
- Official talks were held between HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and PM Narendra Modi to enhance India-Saudi strategic relations and discussed current global and regional matters.
Points to note:
i.During his visit, he attended the Group of 20 (G20) Summit hosted by India on 9-10th September 2023 and continued his stay on 11th September 2023 for the State Visit.
ii.He was accompanied by a high level delegation comprising of almost 14 members and 8 ministers.
1st meeting of the India – Saudi Strategic Partnership Council (SPC)
The Crown Prince and the PM of India co-chaired the first meeting of the India – Saudi Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) which was set up with the signing of an Agreement by both leaders during the PM Narendra Modi state visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in October 2019.
i.This SPC made India the fourth country with which Saudi Arabia formed such a partnership, after the United Kingdom (UK), France, and China.
ii.They reviewed the work done under the framework of SPC including its two Ministerial Committees namely:
- Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation
- Committee on Economy and Investments
About the Ministerial Committees :
i.These two committees have four levels of engagement, including Summit-Level Meetings, Ministerial-Level Discussions, Senior Officials’ Meetings, and Joint Working Groups (JWGs).
ii.Four JWGs have been formed under each sub-committee.
- The JWGs under the Political committee are Political & Consular; Legal & Security; Social & Cultural; and Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation.
- The JWGs under the Economic committee are Agriculture & Food Security; Energy; Technology & Information Technology; and Industry and Infrastructure.
Key Outcomes of Meeting:
i.India and Saudi Arabia agreed to expedite the USD 50-billion West Coast refinery project and identified areas such as energy, defence, semiconductor, and space for intensified cooperation.
- West Coast Refinery Project aims to set up Asia’s largest refinery in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra. It is a trilateral project between ARAMCO (Saudi), ADNOC (UAE) and Indian companies.
ii.They agreed to diversify the current status of their hydrocarbons relationship into a comprehensive energy partnership.
iii.Both sides inked eight pacts to boost cooperation in a range of areas.
Signing of 8 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU):
i.MoU in the field of Energy between MNRE and Ministry of Energy of Saudi Arabia
The Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and the Saudi Ministry of Energy have signed a MoU to strengthen their energy partnership, supporting India’s transition to sustainable energy and global climate change mitigation efforts.
- Saudi Arabia appreciated India for its climate change efforts, including the International Solar Alliance, One Sun-One World-One Grid, Coalition of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), and Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) initiatives.
Signatories: Union Minister Raj Kumar Singh, MNRE; and HRH Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, Minister of Energy for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
What will be done the MoU?
India and Saudi Arabia will cooperate in the following areas:
- Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Hydrogen, Electricity, Grid Interconnection,Petroleum, Natural Gas, Strategic Petroleum Reserves, and Energy Security.
- Circular Economy and climate change mitigation technologies like carbon capture, utilization, and storage.
- Promoting digital transformation, innovation, cyber-security, and artificial intelligence in the energy sector and supply chains.
ii.MoU for Cooperation in the Technical Field & Establishment of SME Bank between SIDBI and SME Bank of Saudi Arabia
A MoU was inked between Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), and Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Bank of Saudi Arabia for cooperation in the technical field and the establishment of the SME Bank.
- The signing ceremony took place on the sidelines of India-Saudi Arabia Investment Forum 2023 in New Delhi, Delhi which was organized by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India and the Saudi Ministry of Investment.
- The signing was attended by SMEB Acting CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Abdulrahman bin Mohammed bin Mansour and SIDBI Deputy Managing Director Sudatta Mandal.
- Under the agreement, they will share knowledge about SME lending practices and collaborate on training programs for employees to improve operations and awareness.
iii.Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) between Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) of Saudi Arabia and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) of India in the field of Digitization and Electronic manufacturing.
iv.MOU between Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) of India and Oversight and Anti Corruption Authority, Saudi Arabia.
v.MOC between National Archives of India(NAI) and King Abdulaziz Foundation of Saudi Arabia in the area of archival cooperation.
vi.Framework of Cooperation on Enhancing Bilateral Investment between Invest India and Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia.
vii.MoU between Saudi EXIM Bank and Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) of India.
viii.MoU on Seawater Desalination between National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) of India and Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) of Saudi Arabia.
i.Both sides agreed to organize the next meeting of SPC within next two years as stipulated in the Agreement for SPC.
ii.Both sides will explore cooperation in promoting sustainable hydrocarbon use, energy efficiency, and raising awareness in construction, industry, and transportation.
- They also agreed to promote tourism, enhance cooperation and partnership in sports programs and activities.They also agreed to expand trade and security-ties.
- India appreciates Saudi Arabia’s leadership in addressing climate change through initiatives like “Saudi Green” and “Middle East Green,” in line with the circular carbon economy approach endorsed by G20 leaders.
iii.The India-Saudi Arabia Investment Forum 2023 is the first formal investment symposium between India and Saudi Arabia. It was co-chaired by Union Minister Piyush Goyal, Ministry of Commerce, and Khalid A. Al Falih, Minister of Investment, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
iv.45 Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) were concluded between India and Saudi Arabia, in G2B (Government to Business) and B2B (Business to Business) formats.
v.Both highlighted a remarkable 23% growth, as bilateral trade surpassed US$ 52 billion in the 2022-23 fiscal year.
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About Saudi Arabia:
Currency– Saudi Riyal