Pakistani soccer balls have been used in two consecutive World Cups; and Pakistani gems and jade, wool carpets and other goods are highly popular among Chinese consumers. As Pakistan is invited as Special Partner of the 17th China-ASEAN Expo, these well-known “business cards” will have an opportunity to shake hands with a huge market of 2 billion consumers.
The Preclude of the Belt and Road Initiative
Pakistan is located in the northwest of the South Asian subcontinent and borders China in the northeast. Its economy is mainly agricultural and it is the world's major producer of wheat and rice.
When talking about China-Pakistan relations, the Chinese call Pakistan their “iron buddy” and the Pakistanis say that Pakistan-China friendship is higher than mountains, deeper than the sea, and sweeter than honey. Such beautiful words aptly capture the essence of China-Pakistan relations characterized by all-weather friendship and all-round cooperation.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan, bilateral trade has been growing and cooperation areas expanding. China became Pakistan's largest trading partner in 2011 after the signing of a free trade agreement in 2006.
China-Pakistan economic cooperation and trade embraced a new opportunity to move onto a higher level after the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed in 2013. In 2015, the two countries identified the vision of “1+4” cooperation layout centered on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and featuring the port of Gwadar, energy, infrastructure construction and industrial cooperation in order to promote the common development of the two countries.
Today, the first phase of the CPEC is basically completed. The coal-fired power plant in Port Qasim, jointly invested by Chinese and Pakistani enterprises, is up and running, providing sufficient clean electricity at low cost to four million local households every year; the port of Gwadar once almost in idleness has been restored and put back into commercial operation; the construction of the free zone in Gwadar has been progressing steadily, as the business environment has begun to take shape and local people's livelihood have significantly improved......
Moody's, a leading international credit rating agency, commented that the CPEC project would have a notable boost to Pakistan's economy. China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: “If the BRI is like a symphony involving and benefiting every country, then the CPEC construction is the sweet melody of the symphony’s first movement”.
Deeper Participation in the CAEXPO for More Opportunities
Pakistani businessman Asif Bashir has been selling Pakistani cashmere shawls and wool carpets in China for more than five years. In 2018, Mr. Asif Bashir participated in the CAEXPO for the first time. He brought cashmere shawls, wool carpets and other products without an agent. The goods turned out to be very popular and some of them sold out quickly. It was the first time for him to participate in the CAEXPO and he was very happy. He said that he liked China very much and hoped to bring more good products from Pakistan to China.
In fact, since the 13th CAEXPO, 27 Pakistani official organizations and companies have showcased Pakistan's national image and distinctive products on this platform. As Special Partner of the 17th CAEXPO, Pakistan will have more opportunities to showcase itself. The Pakistani leader will deliver a video speech at the opening ceremony and the Pakistani Ambassador to China will lead a delegation to attend the CAEXPO. This South Asian country will display its national image, competitive products, priority industries and cooperation opportunities. A promotion seminar will be held on Pakistan's trade and investment opportunities.
On top of the “10+1” cooperation between China and ASEAN countries, the CAEXPO has invited Special Partner countries from around the world to attend. It aims to promote cooperation between China and ASEAN countries on one hand and extra-regional economies on the other, in order to strengthen cooperation and integration into the global value chain. Australia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Tanzania and Poland were invited as Special Partners of the CAEXPO, which enabled the CAEXPO to serve wider regions in the BRI.
A New Chapter of the BRI
In his written message to the High-level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation this June, President Xi Jinping said that the Belt and Road should be a road to cooperation for unity in dealing with challenges, a road of health for safeguarding people's health and safety, a road of recovery for economic and social reconstruction, and a road of growth for releasing development potentials.
“Promote the BRI cooperation in Guangxi, broaden the global appeal of the CAEXPO.” The 17th CAEXPO scheduled to be held on November 27-30 will pursue innovation and rise up to its mission, by deepening and substantiating the BRI and adding more bricks to the “Nanning Channel”.
A road to cooperation. The upcoming CAEXPO will keep the Belt and Road exhibition area. Businesses from Pakistan, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Sri Lanka, India, France, Italy and other countries will participate.
A road to health. The upcoming CAEXPO will act on the Statement of the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The 3rd China-ASEAN Forum on Health Cooperation Towards a Health Silk Road will be composed of the main forum and six sub-forums, with the aim to establish a regional international cooperation mechanism for epidemic prevention and control. A new exhibition area for public health and epidemic prevention is added, to showcase the upstream and downstream of the greater health industry worth 100 billion yuan in Guangxi and help local businesses to explore ASEAN market. More than 40 businesses have registered to participate.
A road to recovery. We will hold the Theme Forum on the 10th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Free Trade, for fuller implementation of the favorable FTA policies, so that the business community will benefit from the FTA, gain confidence, and contribute their share to fast recovery of the regional economy in the post-Covid era.
A road to growth. The upcoming CAEXPO will join hands with Alibaba Group in building a digital platform—the Online CAEXPO that never draws its curtains. Consistent with the concept of Uni Marketing, Chinese and international merchants can conduct exhibition, negotiation and live broadcasting in order to tap potentials in cross-border e-commerce cooperation and foster new growth drivers in China-ASEAN economic cooperation and trade.