Pakistan gears up to benefit from BRI, B3W opportunities: Experts

Islamabad (09 September 2021):  Pakistan needs to identify and avail all the emerging opportunities for its infrastructure and economic development, especially that are offered through Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by China and Build Back Better World (B3W) by G-7 countries. To harness the benefits of these initiatives, the country should engage with all partners in additional to improving policy and implementing frameworks. This was stated by the experts at the webinar ‘Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) vs Build Back Better World (B3W): Where does Pakistan Stand?’’ organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).  

Mr Mustafa Syed, Executive Director, Pakistan China Institute, while sharing his views about international trade diplomacy, emphasized that Pakistan needs to identify viable development projects linked with its national plan.  “Pakistan should partner with all countries as this partnership will be a win-win for all. However, improving security would be imperative as we cannot afford incidents that harm the development projects,” Mr Syed said. He added that B3W is a good initiative in terms of competition although it is too late.  However, Pakistan should welcome investments from all countries, especially under these two key global development projects. 

Mr. Hassan Daud Butt, CEO, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment and Trade, explained that Pakistan has been able to showcase through BRI that it could absorb investments. He said that we can leverage what we know and by benefiting from BRI, where Afghanistan is a partner country, and B3W, which can provide state-of-the-art equipment, we can connect East to West, bringing harmony and people-to-people connections and achieve the goal ofinfrastructure development. 

Director China Study Centre, Institute of Strategic Studies, Dr Talat Shabbir, while giving a comparative perspective, highlighted that BRI is mostly about economic connectivity. He said that BRI relies on bilateral loans and state-guaranteed funds whereas B3W plans to mobilize bilateral, multilateral, and private sector capital and tools. While giving a comparison of both the initiatives, he hoped that Pakistan would be getting maximum in terms of its development.

Dr Abid Qayum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, highlighted that under B3W, climate, health security, digital technology, and gender equity, etc. are some of the key focused areas which are quite different from what BRI offers. He added further that B3W projects would be evaluated through different lenses such as norms on corruption, human rights, labor rights, and environmental standards. “Pakistan is in a unique position, and It needs equally good relations with all powers in this multipolar world including China, Russia, US, EU, etc., Dr Suleri said and added that a single country or economic bloc cannot tackle global challenges. The challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change should also remain areas of the key focus, he added.

Dr Shafqat Munir, Research Fellow, SDPI, while moderating the session, pointed out that whereas CPEC and BRI are clear in terms of their rules and principles, we are yet to have a clear picture of B3W. He asserted that no investment can be sustainable until it is secured. Regional countries are in a bid to restore peace in Afghanistan which is a good omen for the future of development initiatives in the region. Dr Hina Aslam, Research Fellow, SDPI, earlier presented details of the various aspects of BRI and B3W. She talked about BRI’s green principles that takes care of climate change challenges in the process of developing infrastructure.