HAINAN - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has urged the Asian countries to make coordinated efforts for realising the goal of economic prosperity.
He was delivering his keynote address at the Boao conference in China’s Hainan province on Thursday. He said top priority should be given to the resolution of disputes as peace was a prerequisite to economic development. He appreciated China’s economic revival and growth over the years.
Nawaz Sharif said the Asian countries should particularly focus on regional connectivity to strengthen mutual contacts through road, sea and train links.
He said Pakistan-China Economic Corridor would open new avenues for development in the region. He said the Asian countries should take effective steps to tap the energies of their youth.
He said the Pakistani government had started the Prime Minister’s Youth Business Loans Scheme and announced scholarships for youth to integrate them into the national economic mainstream. He averred his government was concentrating on overcoming the energy shortfall to ensure its economic development.
Prime Minister Sharif held the revival of Silk Road could prove to be an important instrument for the economic growth and prosperity of the region.
In his remarks at the session titled “Reviving Silk Road - A dialogue with Asian Leaders”, the prime minister said Pakistan, as a country located at the southern edge of New Silk Road, recognised that political and economic dividends of this vision were unparalleled, both in scale and potential. He appreciated Chinese President Xi Jinping for proposing a visionary concept of New Silk Road last year and renewing everyone’s interest in the subject.
Sharif said reviving the Silk Road in today’s world of passports, visas and intricate tariff manuals, required ingenuity both in policy formulation and policy application.
He mentioned that the policy could be based upon coordination to ensure mutually beneficial endeavours in peaceful and secure settings, introduction of cohesive laws and regulations regarding movement of humans and merchandise, taxation policies and tariff/non-tariff barriers, regional infrastructure for better connectivity by building better transport networks and convertibility of currencies and uniformity in financial and banking sectors.
The prime minister said Pakistan’s geographical location supplemented the potential of Silk Road and enhanced the scope of its revival.
“Our geography links China and the New Silk Road to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. This is the linear dimension of our relevance to the Silk Road,” he said.
He noted Pakistan and China were active partners in reviving the concept of Silk Road and added that work, in this regard, had already commenced since the two new governments assumed office in respective countries last year.
He said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was an instrument for alleviating poverty for millions of people by providing alternative sources of livelihood.
Nawaz Sharif averred Pakistan realised that partnership in the Silk Road would entail a robust infrastructure, regular energy supply and improved overall governance and for this reason, had positioned itself to fulfil these yardsticks.
He mentioned that his government in the first year in office had already sought to improve governance and undertaken sound economic policies. Besides, the liabilities in the electricity sector were cleared last year and the acute energy shortfall was reduced.
He asserted the government had embarked upon an economic rebuilding plan and also presented an austerity budget by cutting wasteful and unnecessary expenditure, abolished discretionary grants and minimised subsides.
He welcomed finances and expertise in Pakistan from China and wider Asia, both in public and private sectors and assured full security to human and financial resources invested in Pakistan.
“We must strengthen bilateral and multilateral mechanisms to settle outstanding disputes through peaceful means,” he said.
He added Pakistan believed that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), with its diverse membership and strong institutional framework, was well positioned to promote peace and security, in the wider neighbourhood.
He was of the firm view that the SCO was playing an important role in settling disputes and managing conflicts which would help revive the Silk Road.
Addressing the forum, titled “Asia’s New Future: Identifying New Growth Drivers”, the prime minister said trans-national roads, rails, oil and gas pipelines, institutions of higher learning, centres of excellence of scientific innovation and the financial sector performing better would be real drivers of growth for Asia in the coming years.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, in his speech, called for a strong cooperation among the Asian countries. He stated this while inaugurating the Boao Conference organised by Boao Forum for Asia. He said development was top priority of the Asian countries. Li Keqiang said Boao Forum was significant for the economic development of Asia.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would join other world leaders, including the prime ministers of Australia, South Korea and Kazakhstan, at a banquet to be hosted by the Chinese premier. He would also address a seminar on “Reviving Silk Road”, which would be attended by the leaders of China, Iran and Kazakhstan.
Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif held a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang on the sideline of the conference.
The two leaders reviewed progress in bilateral ties with particular focus on economic cooperation and Pakistan-China Economic Corridor.
Nawaz urged Premier Li Keqiang to encourage Chinese companies to invest in Pakistan, especially in energy and infrastructure. Both the leaders also discussed bilateral, regional and global issues. Congratulating Premier Li Keqiang and Chinese leadership on the successful holding of the 14th BFA, Nawaz Sharif noted the Boao event was a demonstration of China’s willingness to assist and guide the developing countries in their pursuit of harmonious growth and shared prosperity.