PM at Boao economic forum

Courtesy:  EDITORIAL

Addressing the Boao Forum in China's Hainan province, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has pointed out that regional connectivity, open trade and increased economic growth are the key to promoting tolerance and deny space to extremism and that Pakistan is partnering with China to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity through enhanced connectivity. Describing development and security as intrinsically indivisible, the prime minister reportedly said: "Only by spreading the dividends of open trade and shared innovation will we be able to promote tolerance and amity and deny space to extremism." According to him, the China-Pakistan-Afghanistan trilateral framework is aimed at achieving these very objectives while connectivity remains the cornerstone of Pakistan's plans.
The prime minister chose this occasion to emphasise the connectivity imperative by stating that the major driving force behind its overlapping membership of the regional platforms of ECO, Saarc and SCO stems from its resolve to create greater connectivity.

There is no doubt about the fact that Pak-Sino relationship has no parallel in history. There is also no doubt about another fact that China and Pakistan are iron brothers. That China-Pakistan friendship is the bedrock of strategic stability in the region is yet another profound fact. It is, therefore, heartening to see the bright prospects of the CPEC. That is why the PM disclosed to the Forum that the CPEC, which is the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, is fast reaching fruition. He also told the audience that work on the Gwadar deep seaport at the southern tip of the CPEC is proceeding on fast track. On completion, it will not only serve as a transit and trans-shipment hub, but also become an economic nucleus. The CPEC would provide the shortest maritime and overland access to Western China, Central and South Asia and the Middle East, the prime minister told the conference being held on the theme of 'An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity'. The PM's description of the development activity created by the CPEC is spot on: "In Pakistan today, step by step, brick by brick, a brave new Asia is taking shape." Pakistan, according to the PM, has already started reaping dividends of CPEC rail, road and infrastructure projects. The establishment of several special economic zones along the highways and motorways is integral to the CPEC plans; and the country of 209 million people will offer tailored incentive packages for these zones which would catalyze the development of innovation-based industries in the country.

In his speech at the Boao Forum, the PM made a serious effort to woo fast-emerging private sector in China with a view to attracting foreign investment. He seems to have realized the fact that China is going to open its economy further and lower import tariffs on various products in coming weeks and months in order to defuse its escalating trade dispute with the US. Unfortunately, however, his speech was bereft of any mention of gross imbalance in bilateral China-Pakistan trade as China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement continues to be skewed in favour of Beijing, hence the need for taking all the required steps to correct the deepening trade imbalance without any further loss of time. Friendship emotions must not override good business sense.

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