pakistan-pm-arrives-in-uae-on-two-day-visit-to-seek-fresh-economic-package:-report

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday (January 12) for a two-day visit to ramp up bilateral economic and trade ties. According to a tweet by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Shehbaz landed in Abu Dhabi and was received by the UAE’s Minister of Economic Affairs Abdullah Touq Al-Marri and officials of the Pakistan Embassy. Sharif is leading a key delegation of Pakistani ministers. This is his third visit to the UAE since becoming the Prime Minister. 

“My visit to the UAE is aimed at building on the conversation I have had with H.H. President Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed. We share a resolve & understanding that continuous efforts need to be made to further strengthen trade, investment & economic relations,” Prime Minister Sharif tweeted. He met the UAE’s President  Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and will also meet Vice President Mohammad bin Rashid Al Makhtoum. 

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During his two-day visit, Shehbaz Sharif will seek a fresh economic package for Pakistan from the UAE, news agency Reuters reported on Thursday citing a report by ARY news. The report added the Prime Minister will also seek deferment of a $2 billion loan repayment to the UAE due in the coming weeks and hold discussions on finalising a $2 billion investment in Pakistan. There is no comment from the government on this development yet. 

My visit to the UAE is aimed at building on the conversation I have had with H.H. President Sheikh @MohamedBinZayed. We share a resolve & understanding that the continuous efforts need to be made to further strengthen trade, investment & economic relations.

— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) January 12, 2023

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Sharif’s visit comes as Pakistan is facing an economic crisis because of many factors including political instability, depleting forex reserves and high inflation. Last year’s devastating floods, which killed at least 1,700 people and displaced around eight million, have further added to the economic pressure. 

On Monday (January 9), international donors in Geneva committed more than $9 billion to help Pakistan recover from the floods. Prime Minister Sharif termed the financial pledges as a testament to his government’s credibility. 

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Meanwhile, Pakistan’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have not reached any positive outcome yet. The Shehbaz Sharif government has been asking a team from the IMF to come, review and approve the ninth assessment to release the next tranche of $1.1 billion. The IMF’s plan is being seen as the only way forward for Pakistan. On Wednesday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the government will take fiscal measures set by the IMF to meet its budgetary targets for the 2022-23 financial year, Reuters reported. Dar said some of these measures include subsidies in the farming and export sectors and shedding energy sector debt. 

As the economic crisis in Pakistan worsens, the World Bank on Tuesday slashed the country’s economic growth by half from 4 per cent to 2 per cent for the current fiscal year, saying the government faces mounting economic difficulties. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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