INDIAN ENVOY AUSAF SAEED: “The G20 provides an important platform for both India and Saudi Arabia to work even more closely on various issues, with particular focus on those that concern developing countries the most.”
Senior diplomats from India laud Saudi Arabia’s decision to go ahead with G20 Summit despite Covid pandemic and discussing solutions to revive global economy.
“Saudi Arabia being the largest economy in one of the most important geopolitical regions of the world, it is only fitting that the G20 Summit is being hosted by the Kingdom at this critical moment,” said Indian Ambassador to the Kingdom Ausaf Sayeed, the Arab News reported.
Saudi Arabia is hosting the G20 Summit in Riyadh on November 21— the first time by an Arab country. Apart from being one of the world’s foremost producers and exporters of energy, Saudi Arabia is transforming rapidly under the Vision 2030 through diversification of its economy and development of a vibrant society under the wise and able leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“The G20 presidency during these challenging times is yet another testimony to the significant leadership role that the Kingdom has played and will continue to play in dealing with the most pressing issues that matter to the entire world,” the envoy told Arab News.
He went on to say that India shares an excellent history of relations with Saudi Arabia, and the two countries have seen many high-level visits in recent years that have progressively transformed the bilateral relationship into a strategic partnership.
On the economic front, Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth-largest trading partner and supplies around 18 percent of India’s crude oil requirement and 30 percent of its LPG needs, he said.
There is even greater scope to increase trade and investments between the two countries, he added. There are several sectors in which India and Saudi Arabia can work closely in the post-pandemic world.
In the virtual summit in March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi elaborated on India’s role in forging a collaborated response against COVID-19, he added.
Thanks to its leadership in medical research and pharmaceuticals, India is playing its part in the global fight against the pandemic, as a “pharmacy to the world,” delivering medicines and equipment to countries that need them the most. It is also at the forefront of vaccine development, he told Arab News.
As an important member of the G20 and as a developing country with one-sixth of the global population, India’s focus is on ensuring growth through the development of fair and equitable systems and frameworks.
“This is particularly significant as India is set to assume the G20 presidency in 2022, the 75th year of its independence, and continue to take forward the agenda of global cooperation,” he added.
Meanwhile, former ambassador Mahesh Sachdeva said the growing synergy between India and Saudi Arabia sets an example of cooperation for other countries in the G20, the Arab News reported.
“The Kingdom and India are important members of the G20 group,” Sachdeva, who has spent over a decade of his diplomatic career dealing with the Middle East.
“The mutual bond between Riyadh and New Delhi also underpins peace, stability and security in the Southwest Asian region, which has often been buffeted with turbulence,” said Sachdeva, who is currently the president of Economic Diplomacy and Strategies, a New Delhi-based consultancy.
On March 26, Riyadh organized an emergency summit to discuss this global pandemic which Sachdeva said demonstrates “the Kingdom’s impressive maturity to lead a global economic organization.”
New Delhi is hosting the 2022 G20 summit and “India would naturally leverage the Saudi experience,” he added.
He said that the event this year will be dominated by “pandemic related issues” and stressed the importance of collaboration between Riyadh and New Delhi in fighting the virus.
“Given extensive people-to-people connections between the Kingdom and India, a strong collaboration to combat COVID-19 pandemic is both necessary and desirable,” he said. “As the world’s largest producer of vaccines, India will be an important source of this vital supply to Saudi Arabia in future.”
Bilateral trade between India and Saudi Arabia is worth about $33 billion, with the Kingdom being the largest source of crude for India. In turn, Saudi Arabia relies on India for important items such as rice, vehicles, refined petroleum products, meat, electrical machinery and equipment.
“There has been growth in mutual investments: As of March 2020, there are 476 Indian companies in the Kingdom worth $1.5 billion. While Saudi investments in India stood at $315 million in April 2020,” he said.
With the G20 2020 presidency Saudi Arabia has demonstrated that the health and welfare of the people is a top priority, and has undertaken all necessary steps to control the spread of the coronavirus, according to Indian Ambassador to the Kingdom Ausaf Sayeed.
In an interview with Arab News the envoy said: “The conduct of a very successful Hajj under extraordinary circumstances, bearing in mind all the health protocols, was a shining example of this.”
On managing the G20 amid the pandemic, he said: “The swift decision to organise a virtual summit in March 2020, when the dangers of the pandemic were just beginning to emerge globally, is evidence of the fact that the Kingdom handled the situation admirably.
“While the world would have hoped for a summit which would have brought all the leaders together in one place and experience the generous hospitality of the Kingdom, the decision to hold the summit virtually, bearing in mind the dangers of the pandemic that continue to linger, is well appreciated,” Sayeed added.
On shouldering the responsibility to help the world move forward and the importance of the summit in Riyadh, the Indian envoy said: “Given the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the role of the G20 has increased manifold.
The health, economic and social impact globally of COVID-19 needs coordinated efforts towards solutions that a platform like the G20, which includes two-thirds of the world’s population and 85 percent of the global economy, is well suited to deliver.”
The economic impact of the pandemic on all affected countries has exposed the challenges that we continue to face in terms of poverty and inequality, he said. As we have seen, the pandemic knows no national boundaries, and has affected the poorest the most. Apart from the tragic loss of lives, there has been an economic slowdown that has severely affected the livelihoods of the most vulnerable.
The expectation from the Riyadh G20 presidency, held under the theme “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All,” is that a consensus will be built around the steps that the world, led by the G20 countries, will take to transition towards economic recovery that will help people regain lost livelihoods and provide the healing touch to those most severely affected by the pandemic, he explained.
It can also build systems and strategies that will better prepare the world for the challenges of the future.