MUSCAT: Pakistan is eyeing to be the gateway to Oman and China as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) gains momentum, said Sartaj Aziz, advisor to Prime Minister of Pakistan on Foreign Affairs in Muscat.

Aziz who is on a two-day bilateral visit to Oman, was addressing the Pakistani community in Oman at Pakistan School Muscat.

“The strategic location of Gwadar port city on the coast of Balochistan, will help Oman explore opportunities in western China. Oman's close proximity to Gwadar will benefit the country as CPEC progresses. Oman is building new refineries and even if ten per cent oil is exported it would benefit Oman. It would also help Oman identify various economic opportunities,” said Sartaj Aziz.

“We share cordial relationship with Oman and would like to strengthen it further by intensifying cooperation in social, political, trade, manpower, defence and security issues. Our current trade volume with Oman stands at US$400mn and we hope to increase it by securing more long-term collaborations in various sectors” Sartaj Aziz said.

This is the first high-profile bilateral visit from Pakistan to Oman in ten years.

Aziz said that the country has suffered from terrorism in the past which left its economy crippled. But the situation has improved. ”Terror attacks have gone down by almost 70 per cent. We have been successful in breaking major terrorism networks and have turned the corner. A lot of work is being done to combat terrorism. Our growth rate fell to three per cent in the previous years as a consequence of terrorism in the country. This year the numbers have climbed to 4.7 per cent and we hope to take it till about 5 per cent in the next year. The faith in the economy is restored.”

Aziz will be meeting a number of Omani officials and will also attend the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Pakistan embassy at the Diplomatic Enclave Muscat. The budget for the embassy, US$5mn, has been approved by the Pakistani government. The embassy is expected to be completed within two years.

Aziz said there are close to 250,000 Pakistanis in Oman and they remit US$820mn.

However, the per capita remittance from Oman is higher as the majority of Pakistani expatriates here are professionals. However, there are 2mn Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia and their annual remittance amounts to US$4bn, which is the highest by Pakistani expatriates in any country.