Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday welcomed UAE’s recent announcement to invest USD 1 billion in the cash-strapped country as he talked over the phone with the Gulf nation’s President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. During the telephonic conversation, the two leaders exchanged views on matters of common interest. Reaffirming the close fraternal ties between the two countries, they agreed to work closely to further enhance bilateral cooperation in different fields, according to a statement issued by the prime minister’s office here.
“Highlighting the generous support extended by the UAE to Pakistan over the years, the Prime Minister welcomed the recent announcement by the UAE to invest USD 1 billion in various economic and investment sectors in Pakistan,” it said. The UAE is keen to continue cooperation with Pakistan “in various fields, which include gas, energy infrastructure, renewable energy, health care,” the Pakistan media reported of Friday, citing UAE’s WAM news agency.
The move will likely help revive investor sentiment in the country, which has been beset by dwindling foreign exchange reserves as well as a depreciating rupee, the report said. Recalling the decisions taken during the visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz to the UAE in April 2022, the two leaders reviewed the progress and resolved to further strengthen trade and economic ties, with particular focus on accelerating cooperation and building partnerships in areas comprising investments, energy, and infrastructure, the statement said.
Shehbaz also offered condolences on the damage caused by the recent floods in the Emirates, resulting in the loss of precious lives including of Pakistani nationals. The UAE President in return extended heartfelt commiserations on the loss of precious lives in floods in Pakistan, as well as on the demise of army personnel in the recent helicopter crash, it said.
The UAE is Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and a major source of investments. More than 1.6 million Pakistanis live in the UAE. Cash-starved Pakistan could face a serious economic problem as its foreign exchange reserves are depleting fast amid rising external debt servicing. The country has been facing a serious threat from its external front as the State Bank of Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves fell to single digits despite a USD 2.3 billion inflow from China late last month, the Dawn newspaper reported last month.
Pakistan has faced growing economic challenges, with high inflation, sliding forex reserves, a widening current account deficit and a depreciating currency. With the rising current account deficit at USD 13.2 billion in the first nine months and pressing external loan repayment requirements, Pakistan required financial assistance of USD 9-12 billion till June 2022 to avert further depletion of foreign currency reserves.