Saudi Arabia may be planning for record investments in Pakistan which will not only provide welcome relief for its ‘cash-strapped’ nations but also address regional challenges.
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Riyadh is planning a $10 billion refinery and oil complex in the strategic Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea, the final destination for the massive multibillion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is scheduled to visit both India and Pakistan for regional investment and security dialogue. And a number of major investment deals are expected to be signed during a visit, officials from both countries have told AFP.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Islamabad’s biggest trading partner in the Middle East, have offered Prime Minister Imran Khan approximately $30 billion in investment and loans.
Riyadh investments are expected to provide a lifeline for Pakistan’s collapsing economy which was downgraded in early February by S&P rating agency from a B to a B-. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf partner, the UAE, have already deposited $3 billion each in the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to help resolve a balance of payments crisis and shore up its declining rupee.
They have also reportedly deferred some $6 billion in oil imports payments as Islamabad has so far failed to secure fresh loans from the International Monetary Fund. PM Imran has already visited Riyadh twice since taking office in July and in October attended a prestigious investment conference widely boycotted by other political and economic figures after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khan also visited Qatar, Turkey and China seeking investments.
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