India – Saudi Relationship Strengthening
Photo: “First Bilateral Naval Exercise in 2020 Will Deepen India-Saudi Arabia Ties.” Hindustan Times, 31 Oct. 2019, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/first-bilateral-naval-exercise-in-2020-will-deepen-india-saudi-arabia-ties/story-ttPRSGOxpuJgeBFcwPkAeI.html
By: Sarah Pearce
In late October, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Saudi Arabia to meet with King Salman to discuss oil investment between the two countries. Two important pacts were signed during this visit to encourage partnership and cooperation in setting up fuel reserves. The India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council was formed to allow for India to “address its expectations and aspirations” (Pant). According to the Economic Times, “Saudi Arabia is India’s second biggest supplier of oil after Iraq. It is also now India’s fourth largest trading partner with bilateral trade at $27.48 billion in 2017-18 and Saudi investment of around $100 billion is in the pipeline in areas ranging from energy, refining, petrochemicals and infrastructure to agriculture, minerals and mining” (Contributors, 2019). These meetings between India and Saudi Arabia are setting the stage for the economy to grow and for closer ties between these two countries.
The growing friendship between India and Saudi Arabia fosters a closer partnership, leading to conducting their first-ever joint naval exercises early next year. A series of missile and drone attacks on a Saudi petroleum company has begun to depredate oil prices in the region. “The attack had knocked out over half of Saudi Arabia’s production as it cut 5.7 million barrels per day or over 5 per cent of the world’s supply. India had condemned the attacks and reiterated its resolve to oppose terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The two sides are moving away from a “purely buyer-seller relationship towards a closer strategic partnership” (India and Saudi Arabia, 2019). This partnership will result in a more positive relationship between these nations, leading to improved economies and increased trust for both of them.
As India has invited all of the biggest international oil companies to invest in its oil firms, Prime Minister Modi recently paid a visit to Houston, Texas. India has a strong connection to Texas because it is a major buyer of its natural gas. India also holds a strong presence in Texas because there is a growing Indian American population present there. President Trump praised Modi for being a “most loyal friend” of the U.S. The relationship between the U.S. and India is a highly positive one and both countries put forth effort to improve each country’s economy and trade relationships (Karacostas, 2019).
Interestingly, Saudi Arabia has kept to itself in regards to the controversy in the Kashmir and Jammu region of India. Historically, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have had a closer relationship than either of them with India. However, with this improving relationship between India and Saudi Arabia, the political and economic atmosphere amongst these countries may change. Indian oil minister Pradhan stated, “Our focus is to attract global investments into the oil and gas sector, as India would invest $100 billion by 2024 in refining, pipelines and gas terminals. There is no better place to invest than India” (Paraskova, 2019). The overwhelming trend as one analyzes these changes in investment and international agreements and cooperation is that India is making crucial changes to become a key player in the global economy and political arena. America and Saudi Arabia now stand with India, strengthening it against its adversaries inside and outside of the country.
Contributors, Et. “The Reality behind India-Saudi Arabia’s Growing Ties.” The Economic Times, Economic Times, 3 Nov. 2019, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/the-reality-behind-india-saudi-arabias-growing-ties/articleshow/71871401.cms.
“India and Saudi Arabia to Hold First Joint Naval Drills to Enhance Defence Cooperation.” News18, News18, 31 Oct. 2019, https://www.news18.com/news/india/india-and-saudi-arabia-to-hold-first-joint-naval-drills-to-enhance-defence-cooperation-2368599.html.
Karacostas, Chase. “Trump, Indian Prime Minister Modi Emphasize Friendship at Houston Event.” The Texas Tribune, The Texas Tribune, 22 Sept. 2019, https://www.texastribune.org/2019/09/22/trump-houston-modi-india-trade-economy/.
Pant, V. “New Energy in India-Saudi Arabia Ties.” ORF, http://www.orfonline.org/research/new-energy-in-india-saudi-arabia-ties-57162/.
Paraskova, Tsvetana. “Big Oil Eyes India’s $100 Billion Energy Boom.” OilPrice.com, 12 Nov. 2019, https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Big-Oil-Eyes-Indias-100-Billion-Energy-Boom.html#.