Pak PM Heads to China for Loans, CPEC Boost

Shehbaz Sharif’s five-day trip will include crucial meetings with the top leadership in Beijing…reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has departed to China with ambitious hopes of more loans, infra deals and to speed up the ongoing projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Shehbaz Sharif’s five-day trip will include crucial meetings with the top leadership in Beijing. He will visit Beijing, Xi’an and Shenzhen. Pakistan is increasingly reliant on its important alliance with China and looks towards inking more investment agreements, speeding up delayed projects under the CPEC and seeking more loans to stabilise Islamabad’s crippling economy.

CPEC remains a key component of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The $62 billion project was formally launched in 2015 and was termed as a game changer for the cash-strapped Pakistan’s economy. The project includes the flagship Gwadar Port, power plants and road networks across Pakistan.

Shehbaz Sharif aims to expedite the stalled and delayed projects during his visit to China and look for more linked initiatives of investments.

“An important aspect of the Prime Minister’s visit will be meetings with corporate executives of leading Chinese companies dealing in oil and gas, energy, ICT and emerging technologies. In Shenzhen, he will address the China-Pakistan Business Forum with leading businesspersons, entrepreneurs, and investors from both countries,” read a press release of the Pakistan Foreign Office.

“The two sides will undertake discussions to further strengthen the All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership; upgrade the China – Pakistan Economic Corridor; advance trade and investment; enhance cooperation in security and defence, energy, space, science and technology, and education; and promote cultural cooperation and people-to-people contacts, thus setting the future trajectory of Pakistan-China friendship,” the statement added.

A day before the Prime Minister’s visit to China, a bullet payment to Chinese power plants was ensured, aimed at reducing the outstanding dues to the Chinese companies, with an aim to break the ice and also be in a better position to seek more financing for infrastructure projects along with a commercial loan of $600 million.

In order to provide room for making payments to the Chinese power plants, the Ministry of Finance released a total of Rs 225 billion to the Energy Ministry out of the budgeted subsidies.

Shehbaz Sharif is looking forward towards making progress in various projects related to energy, including the Mainline project of the CPEC, Kohala Hydropower Project, Azad Pattan Hydropower project and Kakarkoram Highway expansion.

Pakistan is also aiming to get at least $600 million in commercial loans from China. Notably, China had previously refused the loan amount to Pakistan due to Islamabad’s failure to honour the energy framework agreement.

Shehbaz Sharif aims to give complete assurance to the Chinese leadership on the safety and security of Chinese nationals in Pakistan and affirms that incidents like the Besham attack, claiming the lives of five Chinese nationals will not be allowed to happen again.

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