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At the invitation of China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Foreign MinisterBilawal Bhutto Zardari participated in a Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative (GDI). The GDI was proposed by Chinese President XiJinping on 20 September 2022.

Pakistan has joined the “Group of Friends”,comprising over 50 countries, which was established to promote the objectives of the GDI. In his remarks at today’s meeting, the Foreign Minister said that the GDI was a timely initiative. Progress towards achieving the SDGs has suffered a serious setback due to the Covid Pandemic, inflation and climate change. He endorsed action in the 8 key areas identified by the Group of Friends: poverty and hunger, agriculture, climate, energy, trade, industrialization and the digital economy.

He stressed that the three areas where stronger cooperation was needed to meet the goals of the GDI and the SDGs were: finance, technology and capacity-building.

On finance, he highlighted the necessity of larger concessional finance; vastly expanded lending by Multilateral Development Banks and policy banks; the redistribution of the $400 billion un-utilized SDRs, fulfillment of the pledge by industrial countries to provide $100 billion plus annually in climate finance, and the need to explore ways of securing private sector investments into sustainable development projects and developing other innovative financing mechanisms.

On technology, the Foreign Minister highlighted the need for an open international technology regime, with non-discriminatory access, alignment of intellectual property regimes with the SDGs; research focused on the scientific breakthroughs needed to realize the SDGs; and bridging the digital divide.

Lastly, the Foreign Minister highlighted that the GDI can also actively promote developmental capacity in the developing countries, focusing on demand driven scientific, commercial, functional and governance capacities.

The Minister specially highlighted that China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a vital vehicle to promote the GDI’s aim of achieving the SDGsand that this is fully evident in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative. He informed that Pakistan has implemented $29 billion in transport and energy projects, enhancing Pakistan’s internal and external connectivity and bridging our energy deficit. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor has created thousands of jobs and enlarged Pakistan’s GDP. He further highlighted that China and Pakistan have invited third countries to join in investing in the emerging CPEC special economic zones.

In conclusion, the Foreign Minister stated that Pakistan looks forward to working with China and other members of the Group of Friends to promote concrete and expanded economic cooperation and realize our collective aspiration for implementation of the SDGs and a shared future of peace and prosperity for all mankind.

The event also heard a keynote address and closing remarks by H.E Wang Yi, State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, video remarks by the UN Secretary General, and a video briefing on implementation of the GDI.

20 September 2022

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