US-China conflict may hurt Pakistan

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THE ongoing trade war between the United States and China has significant implications for Pakistan. The tussle had begun when former president Donald Trump imposed heavy tariffs on Chinese imports, leading to retaliatory measures by Beijing. The decision was reversed when Joe Biden replaced Trump in the White House. The swift, tit-for-tat response by China, however, indicated its readiness to engage in a protracted economic confrontation with the US.

As for Pakistan, its relations with the US in recent years have been a story of ups and downs. Bilateral trade between the two countries has also declined significantly, reaching its lowest levels in history, due to Washington’s policy shifts. Despite Pakistan’s exemplary efforts in the fight against terrorism, the US leadership has repeatedly scapegoated Pakistan, especially after the former’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s relations with China have been rather steady, and more in line with the historical trend. There have been a number of positive developments in bilateral ties, with the highlight being the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. This has raised concerns in the US, potentially affecting Pakistan’s economic projects.

As the US intensifies pressure on Pakistan, it is essential for Pakistani authorities to diversify economic partnerships and explore opportunities beyond the traditional allies. Despite the enormity of the challenges, Pakistan should value its own natural and human resources, like workforce and potential for agricultural and industrial development. There is no other way of going about it.

Gulab Umid

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2024