Bilateral talks between the Indian Union Minister for Commerce, Industry & Textiles, Anand Sharma, and the Saudi Arabian Minister of Commerce & Industry, Tawfiq Bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah, were held in New Delhi, on Wednesday.
During the talks, Sharma revealed that "the total trade between India and Saudi Arabia has increased from US$ 15,946.10 million in 2006-07 to US$ 25,612.46 million in 2010-11. The exports to Saudi Arabia have increased from US$ 2590.77 million in 2006-07 to US$5,227.19 million in 2010-11".
The government further claimed, based on a list of principle items exported to Saudi Arabia, "the imports from Saudi Arabia has increased substantially from US$ 13,355.33 million in 2006-07 to US$ 20,385.28 million in 2010-11."
The principal items exported to Saudi Arabia are petroleum (crude and products), rice (basmati), dyes and coal tar chemicals, machinery and instruments and primary and semi-furnished iron and steel.
Meanwhile, the principal items of import to India are petroleum (crude and products), organic chemicals, artificial resin and plastic. Incidentally, India imports almost 23 percent of its crude oil requirements from Saudi Arabia, the statement mentioned.
Stating economic ties between the countries could constitute a solid foundation for the development of a strategic partnership, the Minister also said that "while the trade ties at present are already quite substantial, there exists immense potential for taking the bilateral trade relations to the higher level."
The Minister observed the focus had now shifted to investment and joint ventures, meant to enhance both trade and services. The Minister also emphasized strategies to be developed for increasing volume of trade in traditional items and a diversification of the trade basket.
Expressing satisfaction over buyer-seller relationships between the two countries and pledging to elevate it to strategic energy cooperation, Sharma also said India would like to participate in the petroleum and gas sectors in Saudi Arabia - both upstream and downstream - and invited investment in Indian petroleum and gas-based mega industrial estates.