China agrees to extend economic relief package to Pakistan: Asad Umar

ISLAMABAD – Finance Minister Asad Umar has categorically stated that Pakistan’s balance of payment had crisis resolved as China has agreed in principle to extend an economic relief package to Pakistan.

Briefing the media about PM Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing along with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Finance Minister said, “China has agreed in principle to extend an economic relief package to Pakistan.”

The finance minister said that the secretary finance and the governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) will be meeting the Chinese officials on Friday to discuss the modalities of the package.

Asad Umar said the cushion provided by Saudi Arabia and the one to be given by China as well as the budgetary measures have helped Pakistan address the immediate balance of payment crisis.

He, however, added that we will have to focus on enhancing our exports and support the industries and the agriculture sector in order to permanently address the balance of payment crisis.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi adds:

On the occasion, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the depth of Pak-China relations should not be seen only in the context of the financial package.

He said China has always helped Pakistan in difficult times and most recently it extended help in the month of July.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China has helped convert bilateral strategic relations into the economic partnership, adding the Pakistani delegation effectively highlighted the economic dimension of the relationship during the visit.

FM Qureshi said there were four main objectives of the visit, and progress has been made in all of them through 15 agreements, memoranda of understanding (MoU) and discussions with the Chinese leadership, added the two sides agreed to upgrade strategic dialogue to foreign minister level.

He said MoUs have been signed to learn from China’s experience in poverty alleviation and also for the transfer of technology to Pakistan to increase productivity in agriculture.

Qureshi said discussions were held to increase exports to China so that the country’s economy could be stabilized. Negotiations on the second phase of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will hopefully be completed in April next year, and the agreement will be signed on the occasion of Belt and Road Forum, he added.

The foreign minister said the two sides also discussed ways to improve foreign exchange reserves of Pakistan. He said the technical level talks between the two sides in this regard will be held on Friday in Beijing, and the foreign secretary will represent Pakistan in it.

He said it was also discussed that local currencies should be given priority in the trade to reduce pressure on dollar, adding the priorities in the next phase of CPEC were also discussed to achieve progress, prosperity and connectivity.

FM Qureshi said industrialization, establishment and activation of special economic zones, transfer of technology for the increase in agriculture productivity, job creation, housing, tourism, livelihood, and skill development of workforce will be focused on the next phase, and ways were also discussed to accelerate the pace of development of Gwadar Port, he added.

Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan held meetings with the Chinese President, Prime Minister, Chairman National People’s Congress and Vice President and discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and regional and international issues, including the possibility of talks with India, situation in Afghanistan, and counter-terrorism cooperation.

He said a trilateral meeting among Pakistan, China and Afghanistan will be held in December to discuss the Afghan issue.

When asked about the visit of US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells, the foreign minister said the two sides have discussed matters pertaining to promotion of trade and energy cooperation.

He said all the indicators from the US side are opening up. The US side has also offered to play a positive role on Pak-Afghan water issues, he added.