Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday termed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a "mechanism" which would not only help the regional economy but also increase connectivity.
In his keynote address at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, the PM said: "CPEC is a mechanism that will forge even closer connectivity between the Middle East and China and between central and South Asia."
PM Khan lauded Chinese President Xi Jinping's vision to open the "doors of China" to the world "at a time when the international trade system is under attack, when unilateral commercial benefits are being sought aggressively by some [and] when protectionism is on the rise".
The “open for business” expo is believed to be an effort on China's part to rebrand itself as a welcoming market and positive global force. The VIP guest list includes prime ministers and high-ranking officials from Russia, Pakistan and Vietnam. More than 3,000 companies from 130 countries selling everything from Egyptian dates to factory machinery are attending the import fair.
The event also is part of efforts to develop a trading network centred on China and increase its influence in a Western-dominated global system. President Donald Trump and his "American first" trade policies that threaten to raise import barriers to the world's biggest consumer market loom in the background.
Prime Minister Khan, in his address today, highlighted Pakistan's importance to President Xi's ambitious Belt and Road economic initiative — of which CPEC is a part — and said that access to Gwadar Port is vital for China to gain access to the rest of the region.
"In Pakistan, the Karakoram Highway merges into a network of modern highways that are part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. These take you to the deep sea port of Gwadar, the point where the Belt and Road converge[s]... This impacts not only Pakistan but has an impact on all the economies of the entire region."
PM Khan also talked about the advantages that CPEC would bring to the region and said: "CPEC shall cut distances and costs bringing much needed resources to producers and new products to consumers."
"It is opening fresh investment avenues, new markets [and] new vistas."
The premier then emphasised on his party's desire to bring about "change" in Pakistan by "initiating deep and meaningful reforms impacting all sectors and every aspect of governance".
"We are committed to improving our framework of transparency and accountability," he said, adding that his government was looking to improving governance and business by using "seamless and smart technology".
PM Khan also highlighted the assets that make Pakistan an attractive place to invest in.
"We in Pakistan are blessed with an abundant array of resources ranging from minerals to fertile land, to a wealth of renewables and the most diverse landscape with 12 climatic zones," he pointed out. He also mentioned Pakistan's major industries, including textile, surgical and sports goods etc.
"But by far, our greatest and most promising resource is human," he declared. "We have 100 million Pakistanis below the age of 35 — a young, vibrant population. And the Naya, or new, Pakistan will be [a] more conducive and more competitive place for transacting business."
After the address, PM Khan also met with his Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Minister of Finance Asad Umer were also part of the exchange.