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Pakistan Prime Minister is seeking big economic assistance from China during talks in current visit


Sharif gives all support to president Xi Jinping's massive CPEC project worth $62 billion

By Girish Linganna

Pakistan's Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, is currently in China for a five-day visit which kicked off on Tuesday (June 04). China is Pakistan's closest and most significant partner. This is the prime minister's first trip to China after the general elections held on February 8. The trip has caused a delay in the annual federal , which is typically presented in the first week of June. Now, it is expected to be presented next week after PM Sharif approves it upon his return, according to sources.

The visit is anticipated to include the formal announcement of the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a major infrastructure project between the two countries. The CPEC is a massive project worth $62 billion that began in 2015. It is a part of President Xi Jinping's ‘Belt and Road Initiative' (BRI), which aims to increase China's global influence by investing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects across approximately 100 countries.

Since its inception in 2013, the CPEC has received vast amounts of funds for extensive transportation, energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan. However, financial challenges faced by Islamabad and security concerns due to attacks on Chinese targets by militants have impacted the progress of this initiative. In addition to the CPEC, an important focus of Sharif's visit is to attract Chinese investors as Pakistan aims to boost foreign investment in order to strengthen its vulnerable after successfully avoiding a default last year.

On Thursday (June 6), the Pak PM highlighted the importance of business-to-business (B2B) cooperation between Pakistan and China. The two countries also signed 32 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) to boost trade and investment. Sharif also assured Chinese investors they would receive full support and complete security. He also invited company Huawei to invest in Pakistan's taxation and e-governance sectors. Additionally, he encouraged Huawei to expand its role in the various Safe City projects running across the country.

During a meeting with China Exim Bank president Dr Wu Fulin in Beijing on June 7, Sharif said his country's reform measures had started bearing fruit, particularly in controlling food sector inflation. He added that the current account deficit had narrowed and public debt was now at a more sustainable level. The PM also thanked Exim Bank for its ongoing support in modernizing Pakistan's industries, agriculture and IT sectors, according to the report.

Shehbaz and Fulin also talked about joint venture projects between the two countries and the potential role of the China Exim Bank in trade financing to boost Pakistan's exports in global markets, as reported by Dawn. The PM also mentioned that the Main Line-1 (ML-1) cross-country rail line upgrade project was ready for investment, as reported by Dawn. Emphasizing Pakistan's interest in Chinese investment to revive the Karachi Circular Railway project, Sharif expressed the country's desire to learn from China's experience to improve the agriculture sector.

According to Radio Pakistan, Fulin stated that every Pakistani project is a priority for the Chinese EXIM Bank. He highlighted the importance of economic and financial cooperation under CPEC Phase II and emphasized the strategic partnership between Chinese Exim Bank and Pakistan.

PM Shehbaz expressed Pakistan's interest in Chinese investment for the ML-1 upgrade project during a meeting with China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) Chairman Luo Zhaohui, as reported by Radio Pakistan. He highlighted the significance of economic and financial cooperation under CPEC Phase II and the strategic partnership between China Exim Bank and Pakistan.

In a meeting with CIDCA Chairman Luo Zhaohui, PM Shehbaz expressed Pakistan's interest in Chinese investment for the ML-1 upgrade project, according to Radio Pakistan. Stressing the need for cooperation between Pakistan and China in agriculture, technology, the blue economy, communication and mining, the PM assured Zhaohui that the security of Chinese nationals in Pakistan was top priority for the government.

The PM praised the CIDCA for its crucial support to Pakistan during the Covid-19 pandemic, the post-2022 flood reconstruction and the provision of polio vaccines, according to the report. Radio Pakistan also mentioned that Zhaohui offered the CIDCA's assistance to Pakistan in Special Economic Zones and the health sector. Sharif also had a meeting with the chairman of China Northern Industry Corporation, where he emphasized that the Pakistani government was actively supporting foreign direct investment (FDI) and encouraged him to invest in the KCR project. This information was reported by Radio Pakistan.

The government has formed a Cabinet committee for the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) to ensure that the council's recommendations are effectively implemented. Radio Pakistan also reported that this committee will present its decisions to the federal Cabinet for approval. The committee will be headed by Sharif and will include Chief of the Army Staff (CoAS) General Asim Munir, chief ministers and the coordinator. These individuals will be invited to attend the committee's meetings.

Restating the statement from Sharif's office on June 7, Sharif is scheduled to hold meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese Premier Li Qiang and National People's Congress Standing Committee Chairman Zahao Liji. The Pak PM will also participate in the China-Pakistan MoU signing ceremony, focusing on cooperation in different areas. (IPA Service)

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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