Pakistan set to sign deals worth $1.21b as Malaysia's PM Mahathir arrives for visit

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (left) receiving Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad on his arrival in Islamabad.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (left) receiving Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad on his arrival in Islamabad.PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD (REUTERS) - Pakistan is set to sign deals worth US$900 million (S$1.21 billion) in telecoms, information technology during a three-day visit by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, a senior Pakistan official has said.

Pakistan, facing an economic crisis due to depleting foreign reserves and a widening current account deficit, has been searching for investment since the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan took office in August.

Razak Dawood, the prime minister's advisor on commerce said on Thursday (March 21) a memorandum of understanding covering US$800 million to US$900 million worth of investments with Malaysian investors would be signed on Friday (March 22).

"We believe Malaysia will be an opening for us to the Asean countries," he said, referring to the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations.

Tun Mahathir arrived in Islamabad on Thursday evening and will be the chief guest at the Pakistan day parade on Saturday, March 23.

Pakistan has been seeking financial assistance and calling for investment from friendly countries, while also negotiating a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have each offered Islamabad loan packages of US$3 billion.

 

During a visit in February, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signed investment agreements worth US$20 billion with Islamabad, including a US$10 billion refinery and petrochemicals complex in the southwestern port city of Gwadar.

Pakistan has also been trying to get loans from neighbouring China, which has pledged nearly US$60 billion for energy and road and rail infrastructure projects as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), known as China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

In February the government said it was close to securing an IMF package, its 13th bailout since the late 1980s, but while talks between the two sides are ongoing no deal has been agreed.