Addressing the media and select think-tanks’ senior officials at his mission in the Diplomatic Enclave, he said Pakistan’s growth was essential for both China and the world. He warned that some global powers were averse to seeing China progressing and prospering.
“Chinese development and growth are for the benefit of its people as well the world,” he said. He clarified that CPEC had got nothing to do with the economic crisis being faced by Pakistan currently.
The project is equally beneficial for Pakistan like China. He was hopeful that Pakistan will overcome its economic complexities soon. He dismissed the notion that CPEC was a burden on the Pakistani economy, assuring that the multi-billion-dollar project was of as much benefit to the local economy as it was to Chinese economy.
He assured whole-hearted cooperation to steer Pakistan out of economic crisis since China was cognizant of the problems faced by Pakistan. “We desire a strong and peaceful Pakistan. Chinese people and their government are anxiously looking forward the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China.”
He said the visit will provide an opportunity to both the countries to learn from each other’s experiences. Matters pertaining to bolstering trade between the two countries will also be discussed during the visit.
The Chinese diplomat claimed that CPEC would create a further 700,000 jobs by 2030, while by 2022 Pakistan’s energy needs will be met through its various initiatives.
Jing said that China was keen to see Pakistan’s industry and exports improve and grow through CPEC and the One Belt, One Road initiative, adding that $19 billion over 22 CPEC projects were being spent as part of CPEC.
The Chinese deputy ambassador rejected reports that CPEC projects carry a 14 per cent interest rate, branding them a “pack of lies”.
“China’s debt to Pakistan is 6.3pc of Pakistan’s total debt,” he said. “Pakistan only has to pay 2pc interest. It has 15 to 20 years to repay the loan. From 2020 to 2021, Pakistan has to pay between $300m and $400m.”
The Chinese deputy ambassador said that CPEC’s initial projects are on track to be completed by early 2019. Of the 22 initial projects, he said, 10 — seven of which are power plants — have already been completed, whereas 12 are ongoing.
As part of these 12 projects, we are building the Karakoram Highway Phase 2, dry port, Karachi-Lahore Motorway,” he said, adding that “thoroughfares, free zone, a city master plan and schools” are also being built in Gwadar.
To a query, he said in future Iran and Afghanistan could also be included in the CPEC. Pakistan hopes to secure $3-4 billion from Beijing during the November 2 visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The government has also made up its mind to seek huge Chinese investment in building five million houses, and to this effect monumental progress has been made in behind-the-scene talks with the Chinese counterparts.
The government’s top financial wizards are also expecting from the UAE about $1-2 billion in cash for reserves. A top level UAE delegation is currently in Islamabad talking to the government financial managers on investment issues.
“The IMF delegation is due on November 7 and to this effect for the first time a comprehensive team having representations from all the economic ministries has been constituted that will start negotiations with the IMF delegation.
Depending upon the financial helplines from China and the UAE, Pakistan financial managers would initiate talks with the IMF.
A top senior official told The News that Pakistan may seek $3-4 billion loan from the IMF to pull it out of economic morass. Moving to the IMF is imperative, as it will provide Comfort Letter to Pakistan which is vital for getting financial credits from the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and development countries for development schemes.
More importantly, during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China, Beijing is most likely to offer the much-need concessions on 300 plus tariff lines which will help jack up Pakistan‘s exports to China by almost $1 billion more.
Talking to this reporter, Adviser to the prime minister on Commerce and Industries Abdul Razak Dawood said Pakistan will Insha Allah get out of economic crisis in six months and everyone will feel a pleasant economic change.
He said Pakistan will also seek technology from China to remarkably increase its agriculture produce. However, he said Pakistan’s current exports to China stood at over $2 billion against imports of over $14.50 billion showing a trade gap of over $12 billion.
With concession on tariff lines over 300 items, Pakistan’s trade deficit with China will reduce further. However, in a positive development, China has agreed to include sugar and rice in the 300 tariff lines and the said two items will also help increase exports to Pakistan.
The official said China wanted to dilute the impression that Pakistan was in loss with China on trade and investment fronts, particularly on the CPEC initiative. China has also decided to send its buying mission to Pakistan every year on regulator basis to balance trade deficit.
This time the mission has extended to Pakistan entrepreneurs orders of almost $200 million. The official said the government was also vigorously working to increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) which had frozen at 2.9 billion.
The government wants non-CPEC investment in the country and to this effect Saudi Arabia is going to invest about $7-8 billion by installing deep conversion refinery at Gwadar. Meanwhile, Pakistan is expecting to receive deferred payment facility from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for import of oil similar to the one secured with Saudi Arabia this week.
In back to back meetings on Friday, the two sides looked into various ways and means to promote investment in Pakistan in order to stabilise economy. Giving details while talking to reporters at the Foreign Office, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said a high-powered UAE delegation led by Dr. Sultan Aljaber, Minister of State, CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and others met him on Friday.
He said the UAE team will ensure that relations between the two countries were enhanced and taken to the level that they had been in the past. “In today’s meeting, we discussed measures to expand the economic side of our longstanding bilateral ties. The government is trying to work out a working plan with the UAE government for enabling delayed payments for petroleum products, similar to that with the Saudi government”, Qureshi said.
The importance that the UAE gave to Friday’s meeting could be gauged by a telephone call made by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to inquire about progress of deliberations.
Other members of the UAE delegation including CEOs/senior officials of major companies, including Mobadla Petroleum, ADIA (Sovereign Wealth Funds), Etisalat, DP World, Dubai Investment Authority, Emaar Company, Aldahra Agriculture and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development called on the foreign minister.
A proposal for setting up an oil refinery in Pakistan also came under consideration. Easing of visas for Pakistanis was also raised in the meeting. Besides the energy sector, Pakistan and the UAE will cooperate in the agriculture sector, energy, water, housing and easy access for visas which will eventually be mutually beneficial for both countries.
In agriculture sector, Qureshi said Pakistan will try to reclaim the UAE market with rice exports that has been taken over by India. Besides, Pakistan’s high quality mangoes and oranges will be also be items for export.
“We have both in abundance and there is a demand in the UAE too. Due to our proximity, we can easily export this despite them being perishable items.” Turning to the government policy of building 50 lakh houses in the coming five years, Qureshi said a prominent UAE housing company Emaar could play a role which would go a long way towards stabilizing the economy. The UAE cooperation in setting up desalinization plants in Karachi and Gwadar was also discussed.