April will see China hosting the largest ever Belt and Road Forum. This year marks an important moment for China’s Belt and Road partners as Beijing continues to pursue ever more Reform and Opening Up in a spirit that will help the world to overcome existing pressures on emerging markets that became apparent during 2018. By offering expanded opportunities for trade to countries around the world, Belt and Road functions not only as a prosperity propulsion system, but likewise, as a sustainable safety net for nations worried that their access to certain markets will be cut off, as countries like the United States continue down the regressive path of economic protectionism.
For Pakistan in particular, CPEC (the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) has helped to transform the country into a major destination for sustainable investments not only from China but also from Saudi Arabia, whilst the UAE, Turkey and Qatar are also considering long term investments in CPEC related project – all of which are welcomed by China.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has likewise helped to demonstrate to the world that CPEC and Belt and Road more widely are not “Chinese projects” but multilateral endeavours to help transform the nature, efficiency and opportunities associated with modern trading mechanisms. By modernising trading infrastructure and by helping developing natures to better cultivate their own natural resources and human talent, Belt and Road can at once help nations to create more goods with an intrinsic value on global markets, whilst simultaneously giving such nations new logistical corridors through which to trade goods at a higher volume.
In this sense, Pakistan’s Prime Minister is both the chief political representative of his nation but also a key global ambassador for Belt and Road and for CPEC. Because of this, reports that Imran Khan will attend next month’s Belt and Road Forum is a positive step for Pakistan and its multiple partners. Other confirmed attendees include Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is also expected to attend, as is Turkish President Erdoğan and top officials from multiple Arab states and African countries.
As such, Imran Khan will be able to make new contacts with important potential trading partners for Pakistan, something which itself is one of the virtues of a Forum that draws together multiple developing and developed nations from throughout the world in a spirit of cooperation and optimism for the future.
It would therefore behove Pakistan to bring a large delegation to the Forum so as to work towards building an ever greater number of bilateral partnerships, whilst helping to promote CPEC to nations that have expressed a clear interest in Belt and Road connectivity.