By Arab News
By Ghazanfar Ali Khan
Major Saudi companies including Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) and Advanced Petrochemicals Company are aiming to bolster exports of polypropylene to India following the lifting of the anti-dumping duty on the product.
The decision to wrap-up the anti-dumping cases by India was also welcomed by Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, who is currently visiting India with a huge Saudi business delegation.
Al-Rabiah, who held wide-ranging talks with Indian Minister of Trade, Industry and Textiles Anand Sharma in New Delhi on Wednesday, thanked the Indian side for their decision to lift the anti-dumping duty.
He, however, called on the Indian officials to consider lifting the duty levied on caustic soda imports originating from Saudi Arabia, Korea and the US. The minister also said that he sees “huge potential for stepping up commercial engagement with India, while calling New Delhi to relax visa rules to boost bilateral trade and investment further.”
Saudi Arabia, on its part, has simplified its visa procedure and gives multiple entry visas for one year to Indian businessmen, he added. Al-Rabiah, while referring to his talks with his Indian counterpart, said that he discussed all aspects of economic and trade cooperation as well as ways of strengthening partnership between the two countries. He expressed his appreciation for the decision of Indian government for canceling anti-dumping measures.
The minister, while addressing the Saudi-Indo Joint Business Council in New Delhi on Wednesday, said “the large size of the economies of Saudi Arabia and India offer more scope and potential for cooperation.”
The meeting was also attended by top Saudi and Indian officials including Saudi Ambassador to India Dr. Saudi Al-Sati and Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Hamid Ali Rao. Al-Rabiah said that the Saudi economy ranked today as one of the largest economies of the world.
“The Kingdom has attracted about $38.2 billion of direct investments, which represents about 39 percent of foreign investments in Arab countries,” said the minister.
Expressing happiness over the decision to cancel anti-dumping measures, Surinder Bhagat, a spokesman of the Indian Embassy, said “the decision to lift the anti-dumping duty levy of 6.5 percent has been welcomed by both sides including a large section of industry leaders of the Kingdom and India.”
“The decision came at the right time,” said Bhagat, adding that this timely action by the Indian government will further strengthen investment and trade ties between Riyadh and New Delhi.
Bhagat, while speaking on behalf of the Indian embassy, said “the decision will reinforce trust, build more confidence and strengthen our strategic ties at a time when India is looking to obtain more oil and natural gas from Gulf nations, mainly from Saudi Arabia.” On the other hand, the move by India is a right step at a critical time as New Delhi looks for energy supplies at a time when it encounters payment disputes with Iran. The problems can further be compounded after US and EU impose new sanctions on Iran.
Referring to the SABIC’s business presence in India, Mohamed Al-Mady, SABIC chief executive officer, said “SABIC will look for further opportunities in India, which removed the anti-dumping duty on its polypropylene exports.”
SABIC, he said, faces another anti-dumping case brought by the Turkish government against its exports of monoethylene glycol. “This is the only anti-dumping case pending at the moment against SABIC, after the European Union and India dropped claims,” he added.
Also, Advanced Petrochemicals Co., another major Saudi company, has evinced keen interest “to look again at the volume of polypropylene it sells to India”, said a statement released by the company here Wednesday. The duty imposed by India covered imports from companies including SABIC, the world’s biggest petrochemicals maker, Advanced Petrochemicals and National Industrialization Co. (NIC). On a commercial front, relations are progressively growing between Riyadh and New Delhi.
Indian companies have begun talks with alternative suppliers to slowly replace Iranian oil, fearing their current mechanism for payments to Tehran for some 350,000 barrels a day (bpd) via Turkey could soon succumb to sanctions, industry sources said. Plans for fresh US financial sanctions on Tehran have worried its Asian customers who fear they will have no way to pay for crude imports from Iran. India, which a year ago lost one conduit for payments, is already looking for alternatives as Halkbank, the Turkish bank handling some transfers, refused to open an account for Indian refinery Bharat Petroleum.