Prime Minister Imran Khan told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday of Pakistan’s “very difficult” economic situation, on a trip seen as vital to Islamabad’s efforts to obtain fresh loans.
“My party has only been in power for two months. Unfortunately we have inherited a very difficult economic situation,” PM Imran said.
“Countries go in cycles. They have their high points, they have their low points. Unfortunately, our country is going through a low point at the moment with two very big deficits, a fiscal deficit and a current account deficit. And so we, as I’ve said, have come to learn.”
Xi told Imran that he highly valued the two country’s relations, reaffirming they were “all-weather” friends.
“I attach great importance to China-Pakistan relations and am willing to work together with the prime minister to strengthen the all-weather strategic partnership and build a new era of China-Pakistan destiny,” Xi said.
Neither mentioned any economic aid in comments made in front of reporters.
Imran will meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday when the two countries are expected to sign a series of agreements.
Though China is Pakistan’s closest ally, Imran’s newly elected government has sought to re-think the two countries’ signature project, the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which Beijing touts as the flagship infrastructure program in its vast Belt and Road Initiative.
Pakistan has sought to amend CPEC to put greater emphasis on projects that focus on social development, rather than purely on infrastructure.
PM Imran will also meet the president of the Infrastructure Investment Bank Jin Liqun and Minister for International Department of the Central Committee Song Tao.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is accompanying PM Imran also met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
The prime minister’s visit is aimed at reviewing the entire range of bilateral relations and to participate in the First China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
The premier is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar, Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce, Industry and Investment Abdul Razzak Dawood and Chief Minister of Balochistan Jam Kamal.
Pakistan’s foreign reserves have plunged 42 per cent since the start of the year and now stand at about $8 billion, or less than two months of import cover.
Last month, Pakistan received a $6 billion rescue package from Saudi Arabia, but officials say it is not enough and the country still plans to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to avert a balance of payments crisis.
It would be Pakistan’s 13th rescue package from the multilateral lender since the late 1980s.