Proton officially enters Pakistani car market

ISLAMABAD: The joint venture between Malaysia’s Proton and Pakistan’s Al-Haj Group has been the centrepiece among a series of agreements signed between Pakistan and Malaysia since the arrival of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

“We were told that the first Proton plant, which will be assembled here, will be on the roads in Pakistan by next June,” said Board of Investment Chairman Haroon Sharif during a ceremony in Islamabad held to unveil a series of business accords between the two countries. “These partnerships are just the beginning and I look forward to more and more partnerships.”

The Proton plant, near the southern port city of Karachi, is the latest in a series of assembly deals signed in Pakistan by international automakers, including Volkswagen AG and Hyundai Motors.

Sharif said Pakistan and Malaysia are committed to transforming their bilateral relations into business transactions, adding that during the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Kuala Lumpur, ten Malaysian investors had agreed to invest in Pakistan, four of whom have come with PM Mahathir Mohammad while the remaining have already worked out business modalities in Pakistan.

During the ceremony, PM Mahathir Mohamad presented his Pakistani counterpart with a symbolic car key in connection with the Proton deal.

It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan has recently signed multi-billion dollar credit and investment deals with brotherly countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

It is also a central part of China’s vast Belt and Road Initiative through the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The deals come as Pakistan steps up efforts to attract foreign investment. The country is struggling with a ballooning current account deficit and a balance of payments squeeze that has forced it into bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund.

Apart from the Proton accord on Friday, Malaysia’s edotco Group signed agreements in the telecoms sector with the local units of China Mobile and Telenor, as well as with a local mobile group, Jazz.

Other deals included a halal meat agreement signed by the foods unit of Pakistan’s Fauji Foundation conglomerate and a $20 million venture capital agreement between Pakistan’s Fatima Ventures and Gobi Partners of Malaysia.

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