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Malaysian car manufacturer Proton and Pakistan's Al-Haj Automotive will start manufacturing of several models of cars in 2021 in Karachi. This was stated by Proton in a press release following Malaysian government handed over a Proton X70 car to government of Pakistan as a gift to Prime Minister Imran Khan from his Malaysian counterpart Dr Mahathir Mohamad during a ceremony here at the High Commission of Malaysia.
Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr Mahathir Mohamad during his visit to Pakistan in March this year had announced gifting of a unit of the Proton X70 to Prime Minister Imran Khan. The car was received by Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to the Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and Investment, on behalf of the government of Pakistan.
Ikram Mohammad Ibrahim, High Commissioner to Pakistan; Khalid Yusof, Director of International Promotions, Proton; and Al-Haj Shah Jee Gul Afridi, Chairman Al-Haj Automotive and the official distributor for Proton vehicles in Pakistan, were also present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Dawood said that Proton coming to Pakistan under a joint venture will usher in a new era of auto manufacturing in the country. "I see it as a beginning for more partnerships between Pakistan and Malaysia in future," he said, adding that the present government has always laid great emphasis on creating an investment friendly ecosystem for both foreign and local investors.
He said that Pakistan offers attractive investment opportunities and substantial returns in various sectors of the economy, adding that the PTI government is playing a significant role in facilitating entrepreneurship through ease of doing business and there is an enabling environment of investment in various sectors including IT, financial services, engineering goods, and textile, etc.
In consonance with the international best practices in car manufacturing, he said, the federal cabinet has recently approved an electric vehicle (EV) policy for Pakistan which is also a step towards achieving sustainable development.
Referring to the bilateral trade, he said that currently trade between Pakistan and Malaysia is being regulated under Malaysia-Pakistan Closer Economic Partnership Agreement encompassing goods, services and investment.
Both countries are working on further deepening the trade ties through Malaysia Pakistan Closer Economic Partnership Agreement Phase-II, he added. The adviser also appreciated the Malaysian government's initiative to organize Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 - a platform to share ideas on future collaboration between Muslim countries and to seek solutions to the challenges being faced by Muslim world which will be further strengthened at the OIC forum.
He also invited the Malaysian investors to come and invest in Pakistan. "I promise that my government will embrace you with open arms and utmost facilitation," he said.
He said that Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with Malaysia 'which are extremely close to our hearts.' "The two brotherly countries share strong economic and diplomatic ties which have been recently reaffirmed at all political levels, as witnessed by the visits of the premiers of both countries in a short span of time," he said.
He said the present government since the beginning of its term has furthered and deepened the economic, trade and defense relations, besides enhancing fraternal bond between Malaysia and Pakistan.
On behalf of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the adviser also expressed gratitude to Dr Mahathir Mohamad for this gesture of extending the gift of Proton vehicle. Speaking on the potential for improved business ties between the two countries, Ikram Mohammad Ibrahim said the High Commission of Malaysia is supportive of the efforts between Proton and Al-Haj Automotive to sell and then assemble Proton vehicles in Pakistan.
"Such commercial activities will contribute towards fostering closer and stronger economic ties between the two brotherly countries. Malaysia certainly looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Imran Khan when he arrives in Kuala Lumpur for the 2019 KL Summit later this week," he added.
"New assembly plant to help Proton achieve its goals and create local jobs," the Malaysian car manufacturer stated in the press release, adding that by building an assembly plant in Pakistan with Al-Haj Automotive, Proton hopes to take advantage of reduced duties for CKD vehicles in the country. "This will assist the Company in achieving its long term goals to sell 400,000 vehicles by 2027", it added.
"The new CKD assembly plant in Karachi will be built with an initial investment of US $30 million and will create 2,000 direct employment opportunities in its first three years of operations. It is estimated that a further 20,000 indirect jobs will also be created as a result of the new plant being commissioned," the Proton further stated.
Launched on 12 December 2018, the Proton X70 has captured the attention of Malaysians who have flocked to buy the first premium SUV from a national automotive brand. With over 25,000 units already delivered and export sales already beginning in Brunei, the Proton X70 is the catalyst that leads Proton's efforts to establish itself as a global automotive brand.
"While the first unit is earmarked for Imran Khan, it will not be the only Proton X70 in Pakistan. Work is underway at a Greenfield site in Karachi to build a new CKD assembly plant that will be owned and operated by Al-Haj Automotive," it stated, adding that production activities are currently scheduled to begin in 2021 with plans being formulated for the assembly of several models in the country.
"Proton sees a lot of potential in Pakistan and as Malaysia is the only Muslim country to have its own automotive brand, both our countries are natural partners who have so much to share with each other. The Proton X70 has won several awards at home and we hope that eventually, it can accomplish the same feats when it arrives here," said Khalid Yusof, Director International Promotions Proton.
On the occasion, Al-Haj Shah Jee Gul Afridi said, "Al-Haj Automotive will leverage on its current dealerships located nationwide to start selling Proton vehicles as soon as possible while we are developing standalone 3S/4S outlets."
"We will source CBU units from Malaysia to kick things off in Pakistan before switching to locally assembled units once the new assembly plant begins operations," he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019