CPEC to help improve connectivity with regional countries: Asad Umar

Pakistan is also working on a plan to bring forward other parties to invest in various projects along the CPEC route to accelerate economic activities and increase jobs for the youth

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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance, Asad Umar on Wednesday said that Pakistan wanted to lift trade relations with all its neighbours and regional countries including Iran, India, and Turkey.

Addressing the 11th annual report, launched by Burky Institute of Public Policy, the minister said that Iran is an important neighbour of Pakistan in the West and the world should stop creating impediments in trading between the two countries.

“Whenever the World Bank and other international bodies come to me, they always say that intraregional trade is extremely important for boosting economic growth, and also they advise to resume good trade ties with India, but strangely nobody asks me about another important neighbour in the West which is Iran,” he added.

“Impediments have been created for trading between Pakistan and Iran and I am mixed up that how that criteria fix in the economic theory that trade with the neighbour in East is good whereas trade with neighbours in West is not good.”  He hoped that hypocrisy of the global community will also reduce with the time.

He said the Prime Minister had already taken the initiative to start developing trade relationships with India and hopefully the new leadership of India after the general election, would give a positive response to the PM’s move.

He said during his visit to Turkey along with Prime Minister last week, he discussed with Vice President of the country and gave the idea that the trade bonds between the two countries should be enhanced. “Our person-to-person and government-to-government bonds are amazing but trade relations do not reflect this kind of relationship,” he added.

He said that in order to transform a relationship into genuine economic ties, a medium-term strategic economic framework was proposed during that meeting.

In this regard, he said the first meeting was going to be held today and hopefully in April, the two countries would sign that framework.

He said that the Pakistani government acknowledged that China and Saudi Arabia had helped Pakistan in a difficult time, but what he said that it was the last time that Pakistan reached out to its friendly countries for help.

With respect to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said the CPEC was a bilateral partnership, but with the consent of both the countries, it had been decided that the third countries would also be invited to invest in some of its projects because the idea was that the connectivity should not just remain confined to North-South but also to expand in the Western world.

He said the government wanted to transform the infrastructural phase of CPEC to a genuine economic corridor. “If we create the trade, knowledge, and industrial linkages, then we would be able to make CPEC a genuine economic corridor.”

In the second phase of CPEC, the private sector would be encouraged to take the driving seat by largely participating in the mega project.

He said the CPEC is going to be the centre of gravity of the global economy in the 21st century and Pakistan would not just be a beneficiary at this regional growth but would be a contributor to it.