Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, attended the 11th Annual Meeting of New Champions, also known as the “Summer Davos,” in Dalian, China, from 27 to 28 June 2017.
Speaking at the event on the global implications of China's One Belt, One Road (OBOR), Prof. Ahsan Iqbal said that the Chinese vision for the OBOR has correctly focused on connectivity in order to reach a higher plane of human development across the world. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of the OBOR, which has turned an idea into a $50 billion plus portfolio within a span of two years, the Minister said, and would bring together the growth engines of South Asia, China and Central Asia, thereby leading to tangible economic benefits to three billion people of the region.
He said, CPEC is bringing much-needed investment into energy and infrastructure sectors, which had become investment starved and bottlenecks for faster growth. The investments are going to under-developed areas and connecting hinterlands with coastal areas. It is creating opportunities for sustained growth by breaking cycles of poverty and under development.
In response to a question, the Minister said that Pakistan's macroeconomic indicators had witnessed across-the-board improvement in recent years. Budget deficit has been cut from 9% of GDP to less than 4.5%, foreign reserves have doubled, GDP growth is at highest level in ten years. This fact has been noted by international financial institutions and is evidenced by increasing foreign investment in Pakistan, both from China and other countries. Investors are finding it impossible to overlook Pakistan's 200 million population-market, with 60-80 million growing class of affluent consumers, and the Government's business-friendly policies, he said.
The Minister said that while Pakistan initially faced some challenges in facing coordination, knowledge and human resource gaps, which it had successfully overcome with the strong commitment of highest political leadership and support of all stakeholders of Pakistan's society. The increasingly visible success of the CPEC reflects the shared commitment of Pakistan and China to the project's early and effective realization. The fruits of CPEC are beginning to deliver instant results with reduction in power shortages and providing connectivity between remote places and developed areas, bringing economic opportunities for people.
Separately, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal also addressed a gathering titled “New Roads to Globalization” alongside senior representatives of the governments of Russia, Singapore and Moldova, as well as leading figures from international financial institutions and the private sector.