Islamabad: Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar said on Tuesday that China had promised at the highest level to help address his country’s financial problems through an assistance package.
Umar briefed media along with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi about the recently-concluded visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China. Both ministers were part of the visiting delegation.
Umar said that after these commitments by China, Pakistan’s balance of payments issue was effectively resolved.
“We had told you about the USD 12 billion financing gap, of which USD 6 billion have come from Saudi Arabia, and the rest has come from China. So the immediate balance of payments crisis of Pakistan has ended. I want to make that clear in unequivocal terms that we do not have any balance of payments crisis now,” Umar said.
He said a high-level delegation will visit China to work out the modalities of payments to Pakistan on November 9.
Meanwhile, the finance ministry issued a statement that a delegation was going to China this week.
“A senior-level delegation comprising of federal secretaries of finance, foreign affairs, planning & development, and commerce along with the State Bank of Pakistan’s governor will undertake a visit to China during the current week to work out the modalities (for assistance),” it said.
Umar’s assertion that the balance of payments crisis was overcome a day ahead of the visit of a delegation of International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Officials said that Pakistan may still seek a financial package from IMF to back up the reserves and enter the international bond market.
Foreign Minister Qureshi said that Prime Minister Khan’s three-day trip to China was successful and 15 MoUs were signed to further deepen the relationship.
“We decided that our strategic dialogue must be upgraded and its level be raised to the FM level,” he said.
Apart from enhancing strategic cooperation, the two sides agreed to complete talks on the second phase of the Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by April 2019.
“We wanted to send a clear message to the international community that we are close to China. Secondly, our relations are unique and will remain so. This tour helped in moving the strategic relationship to an economic partnership,” he said.
Qureshi said the two sides also discussed to initiate the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“There is a national consensus and we are moving forward with unity. We held good discussions on the second phase and it was agreed that the CPEC will be made a gateway for progress, prosperity, and connectivity”.