ISLAMABAD - Speakers at an international summit in Cairo, Egypt, on Monday stressed the need for creating new partnerships to reap full potential of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Belt and Road Initiative launched by China in 2013.

The two-day ‘CPEC-BRI Cairo Dialogue and Trade Summit–Building Partnership for Trade Transformation’ organised by South Asian Strategic Stability Institute was attended by ministers, senior government officials, major commercial entities, leading businessmen, investors, academicians, experts and policymakers from Pakistan and Egypt.

While addressing the event on the opening day, SASSI President Dr Maria Sultan said that Egypt was not only the gateway to Africa but was also set to become the gateway to emerging corridors of international trade. “We are heading towards regional connectivity and building partnerships which will help our people benefit from this great economic transformation,” she said, adding that they had proposed a north-south corridor that is going to build up on the frameworks already in place through CPEC and the BRI.

Other speakers maintained that the Indian Ocean had emerged as a centre for regional trade as around 90,000 vessels in the world’s commercial fleet transported 9.84 billion tons of cargo through the ocean besides 40 per cent of world’s oil supply that also passes through the same waters. “With 19.9 per cent of the global trade volume passing through the Indian Ocean, the total trade passing through the ocean is 70 per cent of the world trade in value,” they said.

The speakers said that with emergence of China as a global economic superpower, trade through the Indian Ocean was set to rise significantly in the coming decades. They said that China was working day and night to operationalise the BRI which aims at seeking regional and global connectivity through land and sea.

They said that Pakistan and Egypt were important BRI members occupying key access points along the global maritime trade routes. “Suez Canal and Gwadar were expected to emerge as mega sea ports with unprecedented trade volume passing through these in the coming years,” they said. “Given the fact that the trade through the Indian Ocean was likely to rise significantly in the near future, huge benefits could be achieved through mutual collaboration and a synergistic development of policy frameworks,” they added.

The speakers said that Egypt and Pakistan had been enjoying warm and cordial diplomatic relations for the past 70 years. It is need of the hour to cement these relations and turn the diplomatic partnership into economic and strategic partnerships to tap opportunities provided by the CPEC and the BRI.

Apart from regional connectivity, cooperation in the fields of security, counter-terrorism, hybrid security threats, migration and cyber security are also part of the agenda during the summit.