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World Bank official lauds BRI, CPEC role in promoting intra-regional trade

Source: The News
Date: 5th December, 2018.

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank (WB) on Tuesday disclosed that around 71 countries under Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) obtained around 5 percent debt from China including Pakistan but stressed upon the need for ensuring more access to the data and transparency.

While addressing at SDPI conference here on Tuesday, Caroline Freund, WB’s Director Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment said that BRI and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) were playing important role for promoting intra- regional trade by building infrastructure but the trade facilitation was required to enhance trade among different regions of the world including this part of the world. The infrastructure alone cannot promote trade but other requisites such as facilitation can help a lot to ensure trade among different parts of the world.

“We are conducting a detailed study about BRI but our initial assessment shows that debt has not become major problem for loan recipient countries under this mega initiative. It stands at around 5 percent of total loans portfolio of 71 countries of BRI,” she added. The trade, she said, had gone up in recent years among different countries and regions of the world.

She said the debt provided by China to BRI countries was highlighted as major problem but their study showed that it was not as big as mentioned in recent news reports. However, she stressed upon the need for sharing more data and placing transparency to ascertain facts based on reality.

On the occasion, Deputy Mission Chief of China’s Embassy in Pakistan Lijian Zhao said that the misconception of debt trap levelled against BRI proved a lie through the work done by the WB. He said that the BRI helped generating 200000 jobs out of which 75000 jobs were created in Pakistan through CPEC. He said that Pakistan became the largest recipient of FDI from China and largest trading partner with help of CPEC. He said the industrialisation was pre-requisite for economic development and in next five years the setting up of factories into Special Economic Zones (SEZs) would be the priority areas between China and Pakistan.

The first SEZs, he said, would become operational in Rashakai and concession agreement between Chinese company and KP government would be signed soon. He said that all SEZs being established in Pakistan would be open for all other countries. All those who complained about missing train in earlier energy projects now they can catch up for the establishment of entities into upcoming SEZs, he maintained.

He said the CPEC would be expanded to Afghanistan and Iran and the upcoming trilateral meeting scheduled to be held on December 15 at Kabul could become the starting point to move ahead.

He said that people to people contact must be the priority areas. He mentioned that there were more than 67000 students belonging to Korea who are studying in China and Pakistani students were in the range of 22000 at the moment. With population of 50 million, there are more than 1000 flights between China and Korea so Pakistan with population of over 206 million must realise its real potential.

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