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Pakistan, Malaysia sign agreements for 5 'big projects'

Updated March 22, 2019

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Prime Minister Imran Khan and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad are at the Prime Minister House.— Photo courtesy of PTI Twitter
Prime Minister Imran Khan and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad are at the Prime Minister House.— Photo courtesy of PTI Twitter

Malaysia and Pakistan signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) for five "big projects" on Friday, Finance Minister Asad Umar revealed during an informal discussion with journalists.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is paying a three-day visit to Pakistan, along with a high-level delegation including leading businessmen, on Prime Minister Imran Khan's invitation.

The finance minister said Malaysia has shown interest in purchasing JF-17 Thunder fighter jets, halal meat and rice from Pakistan. He said that Islamabad would soon fulfil its agreement to provide anti-tank missiles to Malaysia.

Umar said that both countries had also agreed to open branches of their respective banks in each other's countries, and that Pakistan would try to make use of Malaysia's knowledge of tourism as it looks to revive the local industry.

Both leaders are currently attending the Pak-Malaysia Business Leaders’ Roundtable Conference, where they addressed business leaders of both countries.

At the investment conference, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday praised his counterpart's outspoken stance on issues affecting Muslim communities once again.

"You say things which other Muslim leaders are scared to say. And it's because a lot of them are not leaders. They are office-holders. Leaders are the ones who have an ideology, who have a clear stand on moral issues, and who take positions. Unfortunately, non-leaders do not take positions. They want to please everyone," he pointed out.

"It's because of the stands you have taken over the course of a period of time [...] That's why there is such a great response to you honouring us on an occasion which is very important for us, March 23," he told Mohamad.

The prime minister said the conference was about "improving increasing trade between the two countries, learning from the Malaysian model, and investment opportunities".

He said both countries had decided on the formation of a "strong ministerial-level committee which will meet regularly and keep interacting, so we know exactly how we can keep enhancing and increase trade between the two countries."

Earlier today, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was given a welcome reception at PM House. The national anthems of both countries were played and the visiting dignitary was given a Guard of Honour by a contingent of the armed forces.

Explore: Mahathir, Imran pledge to boost trade, economic ties

Following the ceremony, the visiting dignitary met President Arif Alvi and held a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The top-level meetings were followed by delegation-level talks and a joint press conference addressed by both Mohamad and Prime Minister Khan.

An investiture ceremony was held at the Aiwan-i-Sadr in the evening where the Malaysian prime minister was awarded a Nishan-i-Pakistan, the highest civil honour in the country. A banquet was held in his honour following the ceremony.

Tomorrow, Mohamad will be the chief guest at the Pakistan Day parade.

Earlier today, at the joint press conference following their meetings, Prime Minister Imran Khan appreciated his counterpart for taking a stand for Muslims a week after the Christchurch terror attacks.

"Unfortunately, very few Muslim leaders do take stands on the issues that affect the other Muslim world," the prime minister said.

"We also admire you for your stand against corruption," the premier added. "We actually believe that countries are not poor, corruption make them poor. Corruption destroys state institutions."

"We almost took pride in the way Malaysia developed and raised the standard of living and became like a model for the Muslim world, and that too under your premiership," he told Mahathir Mohamad.

The premier said that all Muslims across the world are blamed for any crime committed by any Muslim. He held Islamophobia responsible for the New Zealand terror attacks.

"Any crime committed by a Muslim is immediately blamed on all 1.3 billion Muslims and this was reflected in the Christchurch killings where a man, a terrorist, brazenly filmed shooting innocent women and children and innocent people in a mosque and then he didn't regretted. This was because of Islamophobia."

The Malaysian premier said that the two countries can "exchange information on how to combat corruption in our countries".

Talking about the Muslim bloc, he regretted that here was not a single Muslim country that could be considered developed. He said that Malaysia had planned to become developed by 2020 but unfortunately due to changes in the government it became a target impossible to achieve.

"We still have the target of becoming a developed country by year 2025. We hope it is not only confined to Malaysia; other Muslim countries must also strive to develop themselves so as to be at par with the developed countries of the world," he added.

Mohamad, while talking about the bilateral relations, said he believed that increased trade between the two countries will enhance the bilateral relationship.

"We need to identify what you can sell to us and what we can sell to you," he said. "[There is] no doubt that if we increase our trade with each other, we will benefit in growing our economies.

"We believe that the trade between us will increase because we now have outlined the measures that we should take. We also talked about the possibilities of foreign direct investment (FDI) by both the countries."

The Malaysian premier also said that he is "very glad to renew friendship with Pakistan" and attend Pakistan's national day ceremony. "We have been very well received by the prime minister as well as the government of Pakistan," he added.

"We noted that there is a feeling of fear and enmity towards us, Muslims. That was why 50 Muslims, including nine Pakistani and three Malaysians, were killed in New Zealand. This happened because of the feeling of hatred that has been generated by the press and others. We need to learn how to handle this."

$900m deals to be signed

Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) covering $800-$900 million worth of investments with Malaysian investors will be signed today, covering deals in IT, telecom, power generation, textile, agriculture, and halal food industries. More than 25 heads of top Malaysian companies are accompanying the Malaysian prime minister.

Board of Investment Chairman Haroon Sharif said yesterday that joint venture agreements would be signed in the telecom, auto and halal food sectors, adding that after the prime minister's visit to Malaysia, business-to-business partnership was moving ahead and now is the time to consolidate it.

The visit of Malaysian investors is a signal of a major shift in the present government’s policy to expand economic and trade relations with other countries.

PM’s Adviser on Investment Razak Dawood said yesterday that the advantage of having trade and investment ties with Malaysia would be to enter markets of East Asian countries since Malaysia's inroad to Asean is much better. Dawood explained that Malaysian investors are long-term players and would like to see a good market share for their country in the region.

Explore: Asean — back to basics, but with a twist

Malaysia offers an opportunity for Pakistan to open up the Asean market for trade and investment through strategic partnerships. Asean is a market of estimated 651 million people, with an estimated GDP of $3 trillion and high human development index.

Pakistan is gearing up to tap into one of the largest commercial hubs of the world – Asean, which has goods trade volume of around $2.6 trillion, services of volume of around $703 billion and $136 billion in foreign direct investment.