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Press Briefing by Foreign Minister and Finance Minister at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad on 06 November 2018

November 7, 2018

Islamabad, November 07, 2018 (PPI-OT): Bismillah IrRehman Nir Rahim,


Opening Remarks

Thank you all for coming. As you know that the Prime Minister has just returned from China. I, along with the Finance Minister, Minister for Planning, Advisor on Commerce were also part of the delegation. I am glad to inform you that it was a productive visit. There were three main objectives of the visit. As you know the relations between Pakistan and China are deep rooted and whenever there is a new government in Pakistan, the bilateral visits take place to reiterate strong relations between the two countries. Secondly, this visit helped strengthen our strategic relationship and in moving towards a strong economic partnership.

As you know the Finance Minister was also part of the delegation to give due focus to financial aspect of the relationship. During the visit, we signed 15 MoUs. I would like to highlight especially four of them. Firstly, the strategic dialogue between Pakistan and China has been elevated to the level of Foreign Ministers. Secondly, repatriation of prisoners wherein they will be able to complete their remaining sentence in their respective countries and stay close to their families.

Thirdly, cooperation with China in alleviating poverty in Pakistan. As you know, China during the last thirty years has taken strong initiatives to eradicate poverty. Keeping in view the vision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to reduce poverty in Pakistan, we sought to learn from their best practices. Fourthly, cooperation in agriculture sector was also considered. In this regard, we discussed the possibility of transfer of technology from China in order to increase the productivity. More importantly, the visit of the Prime Minister at this time was meant to defuse the impression that Pakistan-China relations were not at the desired level.

One of the main objectives of the visit was to seek Chinese assistance in strengthening our economy. Particular focus remained on how to boost our exports. We also held discussion on doubling our exports to China in near future. As you are aware, the second phase of discussions of FATF would be finalized by the end of March next year and we sought support of China in this regard. In addition, the visit focused on how to increase our foreign reserves. There is a scheme under discussion to prioritize use of local currency to decrease the pressure of US dollar. Upon the directives of the leadership of both countries, our respective technical teams will engage and discuss in Beijing on 9th of this month, the possibility of economic assistance from China and other financial measures.

As you know there was a hue and cry over the past few days about the CPEC projects. Let me tell you that both Pakistan and China are very much clear on it and there is no confusion on either sides. CPEC is progressing in a positive direction. Our intention is to make CPEC a gateway of progress, prosperity and connectivity. For that we have identified few preferences as to how we can promote the industrialization and also how we can encourage investments in Pakistan, joint ventures in special Economic Zones, increase our productivity through transfer of technology and how to create job opportunities for the people of Pakistan.

Further, we have decided to hold the next meeting of JCC this year.

Lastly, the visit focused on how we can fast track the development of Gwadar port. China in its first conference on International Expo invited Pakistan as a Special Guest and you know more than 130 countries have participated in the Expo. Among these countries, the Heads of seven countries were invited to deliver a key note address and the Prime Minister of Pakistan was one of them. There were several pavilions to exhibit products in that Expo. The Presidents of China and Russia specially visited the pavilion of Pakistan and appreciated the export products displayed there.

Trade and Investment Conference also took place in Shanghai in which businessman were invited to explore possibilities for enhancement of trade and business. The top four leaders of China met the Prime Minister of Pakistan and discussed different areas concerning bilateral and mutual interests. Discussions took place on various matters including meaningful dialogue between Pakistan and India, situation in Afghanistan and engagement on counter terrorism. China specially thanked Pakistan on cooperating with China in eradicating ETIM. The Chinese side also shared their experience of combating corruption in China.

I also met the Foreign Minister of China separately and discussed the forthcoming trilateral meeting between Pakistan, China and Afghanistan in Kabul to be held in December this year, where the three parties will discuss the prospects of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

I am sure that you may have had a chance to study the joint statement issued at the end of the visit, which is an all encompassing document.

Now I would like to welcome your Questions;

Question for the Foreign Minister:

Today, you met the representative of European Union. Was the case of Aasia Masih discussed? Reportedly, the lawyer of Aasia Masih has stated that he stayed in EU Mission for three days and was then granted a visa in order to escape Pakistan. How would you like to comment? (Mr. Shahid Maitla – BOL News)

Answer by the Foreign Minister:

Let me tell you that I met with the representative of EU today to discuss about the early holding of strategic dialogue between Pakistan and EU and to work out a Strategic Engagement Plan. Let me tell you European Union is important for us as a large number of Pakistanis are living there and secondly we have significant trade relations with EU.

Question for the Foreign Minister:

You have mentioned in detail about the visit of the Prime Minister’s visit to China. People are interested in knowing as how will China help Pakistan in getting out from this economic crisis? (Mr. Mazhar Iqbal – Public News)

Answer by the Foreign Minister:

Relation between Pakistan and China is not confined to only financial aspect and may not be viewed so. The relations with China are deep rooted and historic in nature. I would like to refer you to the Finance Minister for further elaboration.

Answer by the Finance Minister:

In order to deal with the balance of payment crisis, we are focusing on increasing our exports so that we are able to tackle the financial problem in the country and to provide a strong base for a better future. Regarding your specific question on financial aid, let me inform you that Governor State Bank of Pakistan and Chinese delegation will meet on 9 November, 2018 to further discuss modalities about the financial package. Let me further inform you that Pakistan has come out of balance of payment crisis and we are in a better financial situation.

Question for the Foreign Minister:

The Deputy Foreign Minister Ambassador Alice G. Wells is visiting Pakistan. Has the US side placed some new demands to be fulfilled by Pakistan? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Daily Kashmir Post)

Answer by the Foreign Minister:

Yes, we had a Inter-Ministerial meeting with Ambassador Alice Wells. The meeting was a follow-up of the understanding reached between the Foreign Minister Qureshi and Secretary Pompeo, to rebuild the relationship based on mutual trust and respect. Evolving regional situation and peace and stability in Afghanistan were also discussed. The two sides agreed to continue efforts to promote the shared objectives of peace and stability in the region and diversify bilateral relationship. The US side also appreciated my visit to Afghanistan and our assistance to Afghanistan during the draught situation.

As you know, like India we also share water resources with Afghanistan and there are some issues between Pakistan and Afghanistan. China has signalled to mediate between both the countries to resolve the water crisis.

Question for the Finance Minister:

Reportedly, we are importing vegetables and fruits and other edible products worth 16 billion US dollars currently. Do you think that by reducing these imports we can deal with the balance of payment crisis effectively?

Answer by the Finance Minister:

Our trade deficit was 35 billion US dollars. The import of edible products was worth only 500-700 million US dollars. We will try to strengthen our agricultural productivity. The Government is taking additional measures to reduce this deficit in an effective manner.

Question for the Finance Minister:

Would you please confirm that the financial assistance from Saudi Arabia has been received in the State Bank of Pakistan? Secondly, as you said the balance of payment crisis is over. Is it because of the Saudi and Chinese financial assistance? Your views please! (Mr. Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)

Answer by the Finance Minister:

As I informed you earlier that the State Bank of Pakistan will get 03 billion US dollars and the rest of the financial assistance will be in the form of deferred oil payments from Pakistan. As far as your question regarding financial crisis is concerned, please note that due to our government’s fiscal and budgetary measures, we have decreased the fiscal deficit during the last three months by 60%.

Question for the Foreign Minister:

Reportedly, the government while deciding about important national issues is not taking into confidence the Parliament. How would you like to comment? (Mr. Hassan Riaz)

Answer by the Foreign Minister:

I may not agree with you on your statement. We are always keen to hear from all the stakeholders. We would continue to seek guidance from the honourable Members of the Parliament in every regard.

Question for the Finance Minister:

Reportedly, Pakistan and China are planning to allow mutual trade in Chinese Yuan. Secondly, the opposition benches are claiming that the current government is not taking any new initiatives rather has taken forward the initiatives of the previous government. How would you like to comment? (Mr. Khalid Azim – Samaa TV)

Answer by the Finance Minister:

You may have witnessed the number of progressive initiatives taken by the new government which shows the keenness of this government to set the direction for a strong economy. We have tried to reduce the duties on exports and reduced the prices of the gas. We have also reduced taxes on the agricultural tube wells.

Regarding your question about trade in Chinese Yuan, let me inform you that this is a gradual process and both sides wish to do their trade in the local currencies, once the modalities are finalised.

Question for the Finance Minister:

You are very hopeful about the economic situation of Pakistan. What do you think is the reason behind the falling stocks? (Mr. Naveed)

Supplementary Question for the Finance Minister:

What is the reason behind the hike in petrol prices? (Mr. Mateen Syed)

Answer by the Finance Minister:

There was an increase of 5000 points witnessed in the stock market. Out of these 5000 points, the stock market has come down by 1000 points. The up and down in the stock market is a routine matter and should be considered rationally.

Regarding your question on the increase in petroleum products let me tell you that it depends upon the international prices and we have not increased the prices as recommended by OGRA. We will continue to review the prices for the benefit of the people of Pakistan.

For more information, contact:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tell: +92-51-9205494
Fax: +92-51-9204202
Cell: +92-336-5644459

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