Deepening ties: China to consider raising investment ceiling to $10b

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan has asked China to raise investment ceiling of Export Import Bank of China to $10 billion from existing $3 billion in an effort to create more financial space for funding mega development projects.

The request came in the inaugural meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Representing Pakistan, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal asked Zhang Xiaoqiang, Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reforms Commission, to increase the ceiling and make available more funds for development projects.

Xiaoqiang promised to take up the issue with the Exim Bank of China, according to the Ministry of Planning. Iqbal praised China for waiving the condition of sovereign guarantee before providing loans.

Pakistan urged China to take steps and deepen economic relations like the way political and strategic ties had strengthened. According to Iqbal, bilateral economic ties did not reflect the deep-rooted political relations between the two sides.

Now, the two countries have kicked off work on achieving a medium to long-term goal of setting up an economic corridor. Pakistan has offered China to use its territory to connect with South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and Far East Asia.

The economic corridor is said to be not only a transport link but can also serve as an energy and telecommunications corridor.

Pakistan also reiterated its support for the One-China policy. Iqbal said US withdrawal from the region would leave a vacuum that could only be filled by fostering economic opportunities in the region such as job creation and providing economic alternatives.

In this regard, the economic corridor can be beneficial to the people of Afghanistan. The corridor would create links with India, Afghanistan and Iran and bolster development in South Asia and the Middle East, Iqbal said.

He stressed that Gwadar offered strategic opportunities not only to Pakistan and China but also to the rest of the world.

Pakistan is keen to see Chinese investment in energy and infrastructure. It is already working with Chinese companies to establish the Gadani coastal energy park as well as develop solar energy projects.

The main challenge is to make economic relations as stronger as political ties are.

In his opening remarks, Xiaoqiang said Pakistan and China had great potential for economic cooperation which would further deepen relations between the two countries.

“This will not only promote trade but will also bring stability to the region by creating jobs,” he said.

Xiaoqiang said the economic corridor would also create a link with the region. China would invest in energy, transport, infrastructure and export industries.

He expressed the hope that this landmark project would serve as a backbone for Pakistan’s economy and said China would encourage its investors to play a positive role in Pakistan’s development.3

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