Abu Dhabi: The Pakistani Ambassador to UAE Moazzam Ahmad Khan has said that both Pakistan and UAE can benefit from a game changer multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In an Exclusive interview with state owned WAM news agency the ambassador was of the opinion that the idea of China’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” will change the fate of the region, and he offered the UAE government saying, “Pakistan will be pleased if the UAE can benefit from the project, as this is a win-win situation for all countries in the region,” said Ambassador Moazzam Ahmed Khan.
Describing this as an ideal investment opportunity for Emirati investors, Khan noted that the UAE is the second largest GCC trade partner of Pakistan, with a trade surplus of US$5 billion. Moreover, Pakistani nationals send US$4.5 billion in remittances each year from the UAE to their home country. “The UAE is already one of the main investment partners in Pakistan. In fact, according to some estimates, it is the third largest investor,” the ambassador said, “So there will be huge opportunities coming from this project, for all countries of the region.” The ambassador explained that the project offers a range of benefits, including reduction in the physical distance goods have to travel, thus reducing the carbon footprint. At present, goods travel nearly 13,000 km to reach China, but utilising the CPEC route, the distance is reduced to just 3,000 km to Kashgar, the westernmost Chinese city, located near the border with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This would also reduce transportation costs considerably.
The new Gwadar Port, at the western end of CPEC, will drastically boost the mobility of goods in the region, said Khan. For example, oil exporters to China can maintain strategic reserves in storage within the port. In the last few years, UAE companies have invested billions of dollars in all major sectors, particularly banking, infrastructure and communications. These sectors, the ambassador said, provide ample opportunities for further investment, as Pakistan’s fast-expanding economy expects to achieve 5.5 percent GDP growth this year. Between 2018 and 2020, the country is expecting the growth rate to go up to around 8 percent.
“A lot of developments are now taking place in infrastructure; we also have a huge agricultural, communications, health and banking sectors. This is where UAE companies can benefit,” he said. The peoples of Pakistan and the UAE have traditionally enjoyed excellent commercial, cultural, and fraternal relations, and the UAE is home to 1.5 million Pakistani expatriates. “It goes beyond just economic interaction. It has many facets, including close defence and security co-operation. Most important, there is the common interest of establishing peace, prosperity and stability in this region,” the ambassador said.
The UAE Pakistan Assistance Programme, UAE-PAP, which also runs the polio vaccination drive in Pakistan, provided 116,177,794 million life-saving polio vaccines for Pakistani children aged fewer than five from January 2014 to the end of May 2016 through the Emirates Polio Campaign. The UAE’s long-term commitment through this campaign, Khan said, demonstrates the infinite generosity of the UAE leadership and people. “The UAE has done a lot for the people of Pakistan, especially in the health and education sectors,” he said.