ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Abu Dhabi on Sunday amid reports that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is ready to extend financial assistance to Pakistan.

“On Nov 18, 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan will undertake a day-long visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE’s Armed Forces,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

“Matters of bilateral, regional and global interest will be discussed in the meeting between the Prime Minister and the Crown Prince,” the PMO further said.

Mr Khan would also meet with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE.

This would be Mr Khan’s second trip to the UAE in two months. He had last visited Abu Dhabi on Sept 19 during which the two countries had agreed to strengthen their economic, trade and investment relations.

The government later during the visit of an Emarati delegation made a formal request for assistance. The signals from the UAE had been positive and the government was hopeful of getting, what officials are saying, “a good package”.

Some say it would be comparable with the Saudi package of $6 billion — $3bn in balance of payments support and the deferred payment facility on oil imports worth $3bn.

The UAE is one of the major oil suppliers to Pakistan.

The government has been in talks with the Chinese government for an assistance package after PM Khan’s visit to Beijing. However, the outcome of the negotiations is still not known. It is believed that China has asked for more discussions on the matter.

Meanwhile, the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a loan facility are concluding next week.

Finance Minister Asad Umar had after the China trip announced that the impending balance of payments crisis had been averted after Chinese and Saudi pledges of help.

Mr Umar has in a TV interview said: “Where we stand today, the current account deficit may total $12-13bn this [fiscal] year.”

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018

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