February 19, 2019: The investment cooperation worth US$20 billion signed between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia during the Saudi Crown Prince’s visit will be a good news for the construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the one Belt and one Road Initiative, which aims to strengthen the exchanges and cooperation in the fields of transportation, energy and ocean economy between China and Pakistan.
“The corridor has been encouraging investment from the third parties,” Tang Mengsheng, director of the Center for Pakistan Studies at Peking University told China Daily on Tuesday.
He said the investment to the Gwadar port would actively promote the construction of the China-involved project.
Tang remarked that the investment could to some extent relieve the economic difficulties Pakistan is facing. “It's not a surprise for Saudi Arabia to visit and invest Pakistan as the two countries have had a longtime friendly relationship, sharing the same religion and similar history.”
The crown prince said Pakistan is a “dear country” to all Saudis and that the two countries “have walked together in tough and good times.” “We believe that Pakistan is going to be a very, very important country in the coming future and we want to be sure we are part of that,” he noted.
As for the tour, the Chinese scholar opined that it was also Saudi Arabia's try to shift its strategic focus to Asia as well as its economic structure from a single oil economy to a more complex system with investment and other areas.
“It could be an attempt to get rid of its diplomatic difficulties, but more importantly, I think Saudi Arabia is trying to diversify its economy, by for example the Belt and Road Initiative,” Tang said, adding that the sign could be seen from Saudi king's visit to Asia in 2017, which included Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, and China.
Tang said Pakistan, India, and China are Asian countries with relatively good economic development momentum.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have signed seven agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoU) for investment cooperation worth $20 billion during the Crown Prince visit.
The cooperation will revolve mostly around energy projects, of which include a $10 billion Saudi Arabia's Aramco-run refinery and petrochemicals complex in the Pakistani coastal city of Gwadar. It will also include tourism, agriculture, food processing and other areas.