DOHA: The Qatar Investment Authority aims to invest $3 billion in Pakistan, the Qatari emir’s office said on Wednesday, lending support to the South Asian nation’s cash-strapped economy.
Pakistan is in economic turmoil and faces a balance of payments crisis, with foreign reserves having dropped as low as $7.8 billion, barely enough for more than a month of imports. It is also contending with a widening current account deficit, weakening rupee currency, and inflation that exceeded 24 percent in July.
“The Qatar Investment Authority announced its aspiration to invest $3 billion in various commercial and investment sectors in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” the Emiri Diwan said.
The announcement was made during a visit to Doha by Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who held official talks with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad on Wednesday after a meeting with the QIA on Tuesday.
The emir “stressed the importance of the brotherly and strategic relations between the two countries” and the need to bolster their economic partnership, an official Qatari statement said.
The statement said the two leaders also discussed cooperation in “defense” and “sports.”
Sharif’s visit to Qatar comes ahead of an International Monetary Fund meeting next week that is expected to approve more than $1 billion in financing that has been stalled since the beginning of the year.
The prime minister on Tuesday invited QIA, Qatar’s $450 billion sovereign wealth fund, to invest in Pakistan’s energy and aviation sectors. He had previously mentioned renewable energy, food security, industrial and infrastructure development, tourism and hospitality among sectors of interest.
The latest boost came after the UAE this month said it would invest $1 billion in Pakistan.
Assistance from Gulf nations and a $2.5 billion loan from China has helped Pakistan stave off the worst of an economic crisis that has seen annual inflation rise above 20 percent.
A $6 billion IMF bailout package signed by former prime minister Imran Khan in 2019 has never been fully implemented, because the government failed to carry out promised cuts to subsidies and to improve revenue collection.
But the economy has shown recent signs of life. The rupee has strengthened and the stock market has made gains in the past two weeks.
(With Reuters and AFP)