Beijing: Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would promote the country’s growth and enable connectivity in the Asian region.
Speaking at the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) at Boao city in Hainan province in China, Abbasi said, “Pakistan aspires to see growth in the region and is very optimistic about One Belt and One Road Initiative (OBOR), and is sure that it will benefit the region and the world.”
Stressing that the CPEC and OBOR projects would benefit both Pakistan and China, Abbasi added that the country would achieve a growth rate of six percent in the fiscal year 2018-19.
The OBOR aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of Silk Road. It will bring opportunities in multiple fields including trade, connectivity, physical infrastructure development, tourism and investment.
The CPEC project, which is a part of this initiative, has been criticised by India since it passes through disputed Pakistan- occupied Kashmir (PoK) region. On the other hand, China has said that it had respected all territorial laws and that the issue was an “internal matter” between New Delhi and Islamabad.
Underlining the emphasis of connectivity, the Pakistan Prime Minister said that the country built over 1,500 miles of multi-lane motorways and has set up Special Economic Zones (SEZs). He also called the Gwadar Port in Balochistan as the “gateway” for providing access to sea to countries in Central Asia.
Abbasi called Beijing “a champion of economic liberalisation” and further said that Islamabad never believed in protectionism.
“Pakistan does not believe in protectionism. Opening and liberalisation is the way forward,” he said.
Dwelling on the recent decision by Pakistan’s bank to allow Chinese yuan to be used for trade and investment activities, Abbasi added, “Pakistan’s adoption of yuan as the reserve currency would be very beneficial for bilateral trade. It will help yuan to become an international currency.”
Abbasi, who is on a three-day visit to China, is expected to hold series of bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres and Chief Executive of Hong Kong and Chairman of Alibaba, Jack Ma.
The Pakistan Prime Minister, who arrived in Boao on Sunday, is accompanied by Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and Federal Minister for power Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari among others.
The conference, being held in China’s southern island province of Hainan from April 8 to 11, would be attended by top leaders from China, Philippines, Singapore, Mongolia, Austria and several other countries.
Known as ‘Asia’s Davos’, the BFA is modeled after the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is held in Davos every year. The theme for this year’s conference is “An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity.”
The BFA is being held from April 8 to 11, and would be attended by leaders from Singapore, Mongolia and the Philippines among other countries.
The forum, which came into being in 2002, is committed to promoting regional economic integration and bringing Asian countries closer to their development goals.