The UK government is eyeing to be a “key partner” of the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and is working on securing British business interests in the project to boost its trade ties post-Brexit.
UK international trade minister Greg Hands held a roundtable with leading UK businesses, policy experts and senior representatives of the Chinese and Pakistani governments earlier this week.
“The UK is poised to be a key partner of the CPEC,” said an official statement issued here yesterday.
The statement said the UK will be hosting a key conference on CPEC in Islamabad in May.
“Britain is a country of free-trade influence and can be an important partner for China and Pakistan in the delivery of huge infrastructure projects that are being planned between the two countries,” Hands said.
“As part of an outward looking Global Britain, we have a clear ambition to increase trade with both China and Pakistan and UK businesses are well placed to capitalise on the new opportunities the region,” he noted.
According to the UK’s Department of International Trade, China is supporting $51 billion of infrastructure development in Pakistan as part of the CPEC to develop key infrastructure projects like roads, railways and power stations which will modernise Pakistan’s economy and boost access to trade.
It is part of China’s broader Belt and Road Initiative to replicate the ancient Silk Road trade routes with modern trading relationships and investments across Asia, the Middle East and into Europe.
India has protested over the CPEC project as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
China defends the project, saying it is a development oriented project aimed at improving lives of the local people and it makes no difference to its stand on the Kashmir issue.
The meeting hosted by Hands in London on Monday included the Chinese Ambassador, Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK and British High Commissioner to Pakistan.
Experts from CityUK, the Royal United Services Institute and the China Britain Business Council as well as representatives from HSBC, Deloitte and Standard Chartered discussed how they and other British firms can support the delivery of CPEC.
A joint statement in 2015 between the UK and Chinese governments committed both countries to support each others commercial co-operation in new markets.