OBOR to create connectivity, linkages: PM | Pakistan Today

OBOR to create connectivity, linkages: PM

  • Shahid Khaqan Abbasi says CPEC is most visible part of BRI

  • Says the project helped Pakistan gain investors’ confidence

  • Calls on CEOs of Siemens, JBIC, Uber, JETRO, Telenor, as well as AIIB president

DAVOS/ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday, addressing a panel at the 48th World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland said that One Belt and One Road initiative (OBOR) has helped Pakistan gain investor confidence, adding that it would create connectivity, linkages and boost economic growth of countries part of the project.

Talking to a panel attended by Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) President Jin Liqun, Caixin Global Managing Director Li Xin, Russian Direct Investment Fund CEO Kirill Dmitriev, AECOM CEO and Chairman Michael Burke, Singapore Minister Chan Chun Sing and China National Machinery Industry Corp Chairman Ren Hongbin, Abbasi said OBOR is envisioned to enhance connectivity across continents through infrastructure investment, cultural exchange and technological know-how transfer.

Abbasi, who is on a two-day visit to attend the forum on the invitation of its President Professor Klaus Schwab, said Pakistan recognises the initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who, through his vision, has created global connectivity for the future.

Abbasi said that Pakistan is one of the 80 countries through which the OBOR passes or would have an impact upon, adding that Pakistan terms it China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

OBOR passes through countries that generate 40 per cent of global GDP and account for 60 per cent of the world population. OBOR is the flag bearer of financial stability, and, despite core plants coming in, the investors have ensured that the projects are environmentally sustainable.

He further added that it is important that these projects are inclusive. “Of course, there are bilateral constraints but they should be available to local players,” he stated.

He agreed with the views of AIIB President Jin Liqun that what seems impossible today will turn out to be efficient utilisation of resources, while reiterating that governments are known for non-primal utilisation.

He said CPEC’s impact was already being felt by Pakistan as new power projects were coming up, and the country’s railway sector was being upgraded, along with new motorways, road structures, etc. Abbasi further pointed that Pakistan’s cement industry was adding 56 per cent capacity, while the exports had increased by 15 per cent.

He added that the development of Gwadar port coupled with complementary policies and greater utilisation of resources will eventually create financial stability and efficient access to Central Asia.

He said Pakistan through the construction of its roads, rails and port was providing connectivity to the Central Asian Republics. He expressed the belief that complementarities would create much greater sustainability for the project.

Abbasi said the Belt and Road initiative was perfectly in sync with the 2018 World Economic Forum meeting and looks forward to a shared future, particularly among the participating countries.

The prime minister stressed the need for ensuring that any projects under the BRI do not create any distortions. He said despite the bilateral constraints, a level playing field needs to be provided for all investors, particularly the local ones, so as to achieve optimal benefits.

The other speakers were enthusiastic about the project, which they believed would be of far-reaching impact—particularly as most of the countries were less developed and would greatly benefit from the economic activity that would be generated by it.

They were of the view that the project would also help bridge the technological gap between the participating countries and would be sustainable. It was pointed that though there were a number of challenges involved, the positive aspect was that the participating states were willing to resolve the issues and work together by sharing best practices. The participants also called for greater connectivity and interdependencies for enhanced benefits.

The Asian Bank president said the project needs to be seen as one that was generating global good for the people in general and would benefit a globalised world. He said it would also mitigate the concerns by sharing the benefits.

When asked by the moderator to sum up the importance of the project and to win trust and confidence in one word, Abbasi said the BRI would create “jobs”, while the other speakers called for continued broad-based consultation, common connectivity, sustainable social lessons, global collaboration, and signature projects.

Later, Abbasi, while talking to Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) President Jin Liqun, said Pakistan was the most enthusiastic supporter of AIIB in its early stages and expressed the desire for building a strong and sustainable relationship with it.

The prime minister said the socio-economic integration and uplift of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) was a major priority of the government of Pakistan.

He emphasised that funding for water storage dams in FATA region would help in reintegrating and uplifting the region seamlessly.

The prime minister also sought the support of AIIB for implementation of some of the shovel-ready projects in water conservation, infrastructure and energy sectors. He also invited president AIIB to visit Pakistan.

The AIIB is a multilateral development bank that provides financing support for infrastructure and regional connectivity. It has a capital of US$ 100 billion and Pakistan is one of the founding members of the bank.

‘GOVT FOR ALL OUT SUPPORT TO JAPANESE COMPANIES’:

Abbasi also called on Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) Chief Executive Officer Tadashi Maeda and said the government would provide full support and facilitation to Japanese companies interested to invest in Pakistan.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister Ali Jehangir Siddiqui and senior government officials were also present.

Abbasi said Pakistan had made tremendous achievements towards political stability, law and order, energy security, and economic growth in the last few years.

“We are hoping that these positive indicators will incite Japanese companies and businesses to enhance their ties,” he said.

He reiterated that Pakistan and Japan enjoyed a very long and cherished history of economic cooperation that was of immense importance to Pakistan.

The prime minister hoped that the JBIC would support Japanese companies in their investments in Pakistan, particularly in the energy sector.

He said there were 84 Japanese companies currently operating in Pakistan and many others were expected to enter Pakistani market at an exponential rate. He invited the JBIC to open its operations in Pakistan.

The JBIC CEO appreciated the economic stability achieved by Pakistan and evinced interest for investments in energy and telecom sectors.

PM MEETS UBER CEO KHOWSROSHAHI:

PM Abbasi also met Uber CEO Dara Khowsroshahi on the sidelines of the WEF.

The prime minister, appreciating Uber for spearheading the model of a “sharing economy”, invited the company to partner with Pakistani banks and the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme to help drivers in financing vehicles for Uber.

Avenues and opportunities regarding effective participation by Uber in Pakistan’s economy in a meaningful manner were also discussed during the meeting. The prime minister assured them that the market holds a lot of potential for them and can provide the commuters added value for money.

MEETING WITH TELENOR CEO:

In a separate meeting, Abbasi called on Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke.

Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman and Special Assistant to PM and senior government officials were also present.

During the meeting, the prime minister appreciated that Telenor has created jobs for around 130,000 Pakistanis, directly and indirectly. He acknowledged Telenor’s investment in the training and development of its workforce and thanked the CEO for providing many Pakistanis with the opportunity to work in a progressive environment.

While recalling the inauguration of Telenor’s new headquarters in Islamabad, the PM stated that he was pleased to observe the state-of-the-art facility that has set new standards for workplace environment in Pakistan.

Telenor CEO thanked the PM for facilitating the company’s operation in Pakistan and expressed hope to further expand operations, including training to Pakistani workforce in latest telecom technologies. He also indicated that Telenor is actively looking at new investment opportunities in the liberal policy environment.

Telenor has been operating in Pakistan since 2005 and has also launched convenient mobile financial transaction mechanism namely ‘EasyPaisa’.

PM INVITES SIEMENS TO HELP PAKISTAN IN DIGITISING POWER, GAS SECTORS:

In a different meeting, PM Abbasi invited Siemens AG to help the country in digitising the power generation, transmission and consumption data, as well as gas transportation and compression data which could bring a lot more transparency into the system.

Talking to Siemens AG CEO Joe Kasser, who called on him at the sidelines of WEF in Davos, he assured the company of complete support for any such initiatives.

The prime minister appreciated the very long association of Siemens AG with Pakistan, particularly in the power generation and distribution sectors. Cooperation for advanced education and training opportunities of young Pakistani engineers in the field of electrical engineering, seismic data processing and research and development (R&D) were discussed during the meeting.

He invited Siemens CEO to consider the establishment of an R&D centre in Pakistan and committed full government’s support and facilitation in this regard.

The prime minister informed the CEO of the vast opportunities emerging out of massive infrastructure and energy development during the last four years.

The CEO offered to bring in an integrated technology, training, HR development and financing solutions for both power and gas sectors, and also to further strengthen their presence in health and education sectors.

‘SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC STABILITY, IMPROVED LAW AND ORDER BOOST INVESTORS’ CONFIDENCE’:

In a yet another meeting, the PM said Pakistan had achieved significant economic stability and improved the law and order situation that had boosted the confidence of local and foreign investors to invest in the country.

Abbasi said this during a meeting with Mitsubishi Corporation Chairman Ken Kobayashi on the sidelines of WEF.

The prime minister apprised the Mitsubishi chairman that the government had achieved the highest foreign reserves of its history, contained inflation and undertook mega energy projects to address the energy issue faced by the county. He appreciated Mitsubishi Corporation’s diverse investment in Pakistan, especially in local manufacturing of heavy machinery. The Mitsubishi Corporation chairman thanked Prime Minister Abbasi’s support to the Corporation’s operations in Pakistan and expressed the desire to further expand investment in coal-based power projects and water and sewage management.

PM MEETS JETRO’S CEO IN DAVOS:

Later, in a meeting, Abbasi emphasised that Pakistan’s goal was to engage with all Asian countries in its economic activity and Japan was among its top partners.

He said this during his meeting with Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) CEO Ishige Hiroyuki. Member of the National Assembly Shiza Fatima and senior government officials were also present, according to a press release received here from Davos.

The PM appreciated JETRO’s consistent support to Pakistan for trade and investment. He apprised the JETRO ‘s CEO that in the last few years, Pakistan had made tremendous achievements towards political stability, improved law and order situation, energy security, and economic growth that had been acknowledged by renowned international rating agencies.

Hiroyuki acknowledged Pakistan’s economic growth and expressed hope for continued cooperation in various sectors of the economy.

It is pertinent to mention here that JETRO is a leading investment matchmaker in Japan in the public sector and has 73 overseas offices with extensive research network.

He also met with Trina-Solar CEO/Chairman Jifan Gao.



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