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Talks being held in Beijing to finalise ‘cooperation modalities’

Updated November 10, 2018

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Chinese President Xi Jinping (R), meets Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Great Hall in Beijing earlier this month. — AP/File
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R), meets Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Great Hall in Beijing earlier this month. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China began formal talks in Beijing on Friday for finalisation of modalities on economic cooperation.

A delegation led by Finance Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan and State Bank of Pakistan Governor Tariq Bajwa is negotiating with its Chinese counterparts details of the assistance package.

Talks are a follow-up to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China during which the two sides signed 15 agreements and Memorandum of Understanding to enhance cooperation in economy, trade and other sectors.

Pakistani delegation is being led by finance secretary and SBP governor

A Finance Division official said the two sides had agreed to elevate the Pakistan-China strategic partnership to new heights.

PM Khan on Thursday apprised the cabinet of his visit to China and said Beijing had assured Islamabad “of every kind of assistance” and Pakistan will reap its benefits in the days to come.

Finance Minister Asad Umar, soon after the visit to China, had claimed that immediate balance of payments crisis had been averted with the help of financial assistance from China and Saudi Arabia. However, he did not give a figure of assistance from China.

He had further said that the Chinese assistance would be forthcoming but the size and form were yet to be worked out. Now the delegation to China will work out details of the assistance, an official of the Finance Division said.

The IMF’s technical level team had started sharing data to determine the gap to be bridged for averting the balance of payments crisis. The package will be finalised following confirmation reports from China, said the official, while the IMF package will be announced by Nov 20.

Several other measures were announced during the visit to China which, according to Pakistan, will help in reducing the pressure on its falling reserves, especially the swapping currency agreement.

The only announcement that came from the adviser to prime minister on commerce was regarding the Chinese government agreement to increase its imports from Pakistan to $2.2 billion by the end of 2018-19 from the existing level of $1.2bn and to $3.2bn by end of next fiscal year.

For past many years, Pakistan has been calling upon the Chinese government to grant market access similar to those Beijing had offered to Bangladesh and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2018

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