March 21, 2019 / 12:08 PM / a month ago

Pakistan eyes $900 million investment deals during Malaysian PM's visit

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan is set to sign deals worth $900 million in telecoms, information technology during a three day visit by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, a senior official said on Thursday.

Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad arrives at the APEC CEO Summit 2018 at the Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 17 November 2018. Fazry Ismail/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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 a memoranda of understanding covering $800-$900 million worth of investments with Malaysian investors would be signed on Friday.

“We believe Malaysia will be an opening for us to the ASEAN countries,” he said, referring to the Association of South East Asian Nations.

Mahathir is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on Thursday evening and will be the chief guest at the Pakistan day parade on 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 $3 billion.

During a visit in February, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signed investment agreements worth $20 billion with Islamabad, including a $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 $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.

Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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