- The Prime Minister of India and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince chaired the first meeting of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council (SPC).
- The two sides signed eight agreements including on upgrading their hydrocarbon energy partnership, and creating a joint task force in Saudi investment.
- The Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) between India and Saudi Arabia was established in 2019, with the aim to guide and enhance the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
- It consist of two sub committees:
- Committee of Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation
- Committee on Economy and Investments
- These committees have four level of engagements, including summit-level meetings, ministerial-level discussions, senior official meetings, and joint working groups.
- India is the fourth country with which Saudi Arabia has formed such a strategic partnership, after UK, France and China.
- The two countries have established friendly and cordial relationships since 1947, which reflect their socio-cultural and economic ties.
- In 2006, the visit of King Abdullah to India was a watershed moment in their relationship.
- The royal visit resulted in Delhi Declaration followed by Riyadh Declaration in 2010, that elevated bilateral ties to strategic partnership.
- In 2016, the visit of Indian Prime Minister to Riyadh captured the spirit of enhanced cooperation in the political economic, security and defence realms.
- The momentum of spirit stayed back till 2019, when again Indian Prime Minister visited Riyadh in 2019.
- The Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) Agreement was signed during the visit, which established a high-level council to steer the Indo-Saudi relationship.
Four Pillars of Relationship:
- Economic Ties:
- India is Saudi Arabia's second largest trade partner while Saudi Arabia is India's fourth largest trade partner.
- Both countries praised the burgeoning trade ties and noted that bilateral trade has increased in 2022-23, marking growth of more than 23%.
- Many Indian companies and corporate groups have established strong presence in Saudi Arabia, eg: Tata, Wipro, TCS, etc.
- Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) have invested in several Indian Startups such as Delhivery, FirstCry. Grofers, Ola, Paytm, Policybazar through SoftBank Vision Fund.
- The major proposed investment is $44 billion Wets Coast Refinery & Petrochemicals Project in Maharashtra, which is being jointly built by Saudi Aramco, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, and an Indian consortium that includes Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, and Bharat Petroleum Corporation.
- Energy Cooperation:
- Saudi Arabia is the key partner for ensuring India's energy security, and was its third largest crude and petroleum products source for FY23.
- India imported around 16.7% of crude from the country, in the India's total crude imports in FY23.
- Defence Partnership:
- The defence partnership has experienced tremendous growth in recent years.
- There is extensive naval cooperation between India and Saudi Arabia, and two editions of the bilateral naval exercise, Al Mohed al Hindi, have been concluded, so far.
- Both sides also cooperate closely in the domain of defense industries and capacity building.
- Indians in Saudi:
- The Indian Community in the kingdom is 2.4 million strong, widely respected for its contribution to the development of Saudi Arabia, and seen as a living bridge between the two countries.
- India and Saudi Arabia have stressed the importance of strengthening security cooperation in the field of combating terrorism and its financing.
- An agreement was signed between the National Institute of Technology of India and the Saline Water Conservation Corporation of Saudi Arabia.
- West Coast Refinery Project aims to set up Asia's largest refinery in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra.
- However, the two countries have stressed on the importance of achieving security and stability in Afghanistan and forming an inclusive government that would represent all spectrums of Afghan people.
Source - Indian Express