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Russia Awaits Formal Invitation to Join CPEC; Libya Wants Included in Belt and Road Initiative

(BE2C2) — Acting ambassador of Russian Federation on Monday said Russia was eagerly waiting for a formal invitation from China and Pakistan to invest in CPEC related projects. Vladirmir Berezyuk also said that a delegation of Russian businessmen will visit Pakistan very soon to explore new opportunities for investment.

Addressing members of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI), Berezyuk mentioned Russian cooperation in the development of Pakistan economy specially the Karachi Steel Mills and Guddu Power Plant as fine examples of mutual and highly productive cooperation, he said.

The ambassador confirmed that recently Pakistan and Russia inked an agreement to lay Karachi-Lahore (North-South) LNG pipeline which is expected to resolve multiple energy related problems of the country. He also mentioned that this year Pakistan and a consortium of Russian Federation companies inked an agreement to establish an oil refinery at Kohat. “It will have capacity to refine hundred thousand barrels of crude oil per day.”

However this cooperation needs to be expanded to other sectors as well, the acting Russian ambassador said. Russian companies are taking keen interest in making investment in Pakistan as there are brighter chances for joint ventures in sectors like construction, agriculture, energy, information technology and textiles, he added.

According to several observers, Russia’s growing interest in leap-frogging bilateral relations with Pakistan and offering to invest in CPEC projects are driven by its wider geoeconomic and geostrategic interest comprising South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. Pakistan, some analysts say, is poised to become center of economic gravity of this wider region with geoeconomy topping geostrategic priorities of many of the stakeholders.

Libya expresses willingness to join Belt and Road Initiative

Libya’s UN-backed Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed M’etig on Monday revealed that Libya desires to develop its economy by joining the Belt and Road Initiative at a meeting with Wang Qimin, Charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy to Libya.

Wang Qimin (L), Charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy to Libya, meets with Libya’s UN-backed Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed M’etig in Tripoli, Libya, April 16, 2018.

“China is a country with great and important political and economic weight in the world,” said M’etig, stressing the importance of developing the Libyan-Chinese relations in various fields and working on the return of Chinese companies to Libya to complete the suspended projects, report Xinhua.

He also confirmed that Libya is willing to provide security and sovereign guarantees, and expressed his desire to develop the national economy and reconstruction of Libya by joining the BRI.

The Belt and Road Initiative, which includes the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aims to build trade and infrastructure networks linking Asia to Europe and Africa along the trade routes of the ancient Silk Road. In total, the project intends to cover 65 countries over 3 continents.

Wang reiterated that the return of Chinese companies to Libya is linked to improved security situation, noting that Beijing will encourage Chinese companies to return as soon as Libya regains stability.

Wang on Sunday met with Khaled al-Meshri, the newly-appointed head of the Libyan Higher Council of State, and discussed China’s support for Libya’s political settlement according to the UN-proposed action plan.

Analysis

Libya’s willingness to join BRI and Beijing’s nod would rest on security and stability issues the former continues to face and Beijing’s ability to mitigate risks inherent in BRI and its ability to negotiate stresses in its model emerging due to geopolitics, rivalry and skepticism in the West on standards being followed for trans-national investments and transparency.

Beijing says the BRI (proposed by China in 2013) aims to achieve policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes, building a new platform for international cooperation to create new drivers of growth.

Two of its major global economic competitors– USA and India and several of their think tanks and thought-leaders consider BRI a challenge for them not only in South Asia but worldwide– China is poised to become numero uno in global economy in less than a decade– almost the same time the BRI is expected to mature significantly, and its flagship–the CPEC would be cruising.

BRI, if successful, has the ability to completely change the trade environment of Eurasia. The road would cover 65% of the world’s population,  40% of the world’s GDP, and 20% of all the goods and services the moved in the world market (McKinsey & Company). In addition, it would encompass 75% of known world energy sources (South China Morning Post).

Countries joining the BRI are likely to see their growth lifted over the next five years, according to a survey released in Washington on Wednesday. About 92 per cent of the survey respondents expect the BRI to bolster domestic growth in the next five years.

The survey of 26 central banks of countries participating in the BRI, over half of them in Europe, was conducted by the International Finance Forum, a think tank, and Central Banking Publications.

However, the project’s size provokes questions in regard to its funding and execution specially in hot spots of the regions Beijing’s BRI has included in its envelope.

 






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