(MENAFN - Arab News) Trade exchange between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan rose 31 percent to SR 18 billion in 2011 compared to the previous year, Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah announced yesterday.
Addressing the Saudi-Pakistani Joint Commission, he expressed his optimism that the meeting would boost commercial and economic relations between the two OIC countries. He urged Saudi and Pakistani businessmen and women to make use of the huge investment opportunities in both countries.
"We have to work together to mobilize our untapped potentials in various sectors including trade, investment and information technology for the welfare and progress of people in our countries," the Saudi minister said.
He said Saudi and Pakistan businessmen could play a big role in accelerating the economic progress of their countries by entering into joint ventures in vital sectors, making use of incentives offered by governments.
Al-Rabiah underscored the deep-rooted relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and thanked Islamabad for hosting the commission's 9th meeting. Pakistan's Commerce Minister Amin Fahim led his country's delegation during the talks.
Al-Rabiah commended the contribution of more than a million Pakistani expatriate workers to the Kingdom's development. "We receive about 200,000 Haj pilgrims and 500,000 Umrah pilgrims from Pakistan every year."
The Saudi minister arrived here last night at the head of a large business delegation. During the commission meeting, Pakistan will seek Saudi support to finalize Pak-Gulf Cooperation Council negotiations on free trade agreement and investments in various sectors.
According to informed sources, the two sides would take up issues ranging from trade to investment and cooperation in energy during the two-day Islamabad talks.
The discussions will also cover cooperation in banking, industry, investment, power sector, energy, petroleum products and infrastructure, one source said.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy excellent relations. The close geographical proximity, historic trade ties, religious affinity and the complementary nature of economic needs have created a strong bondage of trust between the two countries. In addition, there is a convergence of views and interests of the two countries on most of the regional and international issues. In the trade sector, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia maintain good relations that are improving with the passage of time. The Kingdom is among the top 15 major export destinations of Pakistan. Saudi-Pak annual bilateral trade stands at nearly 5 billion. Major items of exports from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia include raw cotton, cotton yarn, cotton cloth, readymade garments, bed linen, towels, tents and canvas, art silk and synthetic textiles, leather garments, furniture, carpets and rugs, footwear, sports goods and surgical goods, rice, fish, fruits, vegetables, spices, biscuits, jams, and juices.
Pakistan imports petroleum from Saudi Arabia. Other imports from Saudi Arabia include petrochemicals, organic chemical products, plastic and plastic products, fertilizers, steel products, electrical equipment and materials, raw skins, tanned leather, boilers and heavy equipment, copper and copper products, aluminum and aluminum products, chemicals (in-organic), components, precious metals, steel castings, tractors and other floor coverings of man-made fibers, various chemical products, rubber and rubber products.
There are more than 350 Pakistani investors in the Kingdom who have obtained licenses from Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and have established companies in various fields of construction and services.
Major joint venture investments both in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan include companies like HUBCO, Pak Electron, Attock Cement, National Tiles and Ceramics, Saudi-Pak Industrial and Agricultural Investment Company, Prime Commercial Bank, Falcon Cement, Attock Oil Refinery, Pak-Arab Refinery, Pakistan Cables Limited, Faisal Islamic Bank, Sanaullah Woolen Mills, Al-Dahlawi Sana Co. for manufacturing Surgical Strings, National Fabric Products Factory, United Spinning & Textile Factories Co., Al-Olyan Descon Engineering Co.