India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council Meeting
- Recently, the first meeting of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) has been organized.
- Prime Minister Modi and Crown Prince Bin Salman co-chaired the first meeting of the India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) during the G-20 meeting.
- It was established as a high-level council to strengthen India-Saudi Arabia relations. It may be noted that ‘SPC’ was established in 2019. ,
- In the meeting, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging discussions focusing on expanding trade and security ties.
- India becomes the fourth country after Britain, France and China with which Riyadh has entered into such a strategic partnership.
Key points of SPC meeting:
- A task force will be formed to expedite the completion of the $50 billion West Coast Refinery project.
- It aims to set up Asia’s largest refinery with a capacity of 60 million tonnes per annum in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra.
- It is a trilateral project between ARAMCO (Saudi Arabia), Abu Dhabi National Oil Company /ADNOC (United Arab Emirates) and Indian companies.
- Both countries will cooperate on establishing power and grid interconnection. Also, it has been decided to expand the existing partnership in the hydrocarbon sector into a comprehensive energy partnership.
- Both countries have discussed new and renewable energy; Digitalization and Electronic Manufacturing; MoUs have been signed in areas like increasing bilateral investment, desalination of sea water.
Importance of India-Saudi Arabia relations
- Geo-strategic: Saudi Arabia’s strategic location in West Asia makes it an important country within India’s foreign policy priorities in the region.
- Economic Cooperation: Bilateral trade between India and Saudi Arabia has increased unprecedentedly to $52.75 billion in the financial year 2022-23. India’s exports to Saudi Arabia reached $10.7 billion, showing a significant growth from $8.8 billion recorded in 2021-22. India is the second largest trading partner of Saudi Arabia, while Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest trading partner of India.
- Energy Security: Saudi Arabia has been India’s third largest supplier of crude oil and petroleum products during the financial year 2022-23. India imported 39.5 million metric tonnes (MMT) of crude oil from Saudi Arabia in FY 2022-23, which is 16.7% of its total crude oil imports. Furthermore, India’s liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) imports from Saudi Arabia reached 7.85 MMT, accounting for 11.2% of total petroleum gas imports in FY23.
- Cultural: The Indian community in Saudi Arabia, numbering approximately 2.2 million, represents the largest expatriate group in Saudi Arabia. Indian expatriates constitute 7% of Saudi Arabia’s population, playing a vital role in the country’s economic development. Apart from this, the holy cities like Mecca and Medina are also located here, which are famous for the annual Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage.
Source – Indian Express