Saudi Arabia Current Affairs
Pakistan has invited Saudi Arabia to join $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the third strategic partner. Formal request in this regard was made after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Saudi Arabia during his first foreign trip after getting elected.
Saudi Arabia is first country that Pakistan has invited to become partner in CPEC. Pakistan’s main interest in inviting Saudi Arabia in CPEC is to ensure huge investment from cash rich gulf country. This invitation comes after Pakistan concern over rising debt levels have especially due to unsustainable loans from China for CPEC projects, compromising cash-strapped Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Projects as part of CPEC in which Saudi Arabia will be investing will be smoothed out during visit of Saudi Arabia’s Finance and Energy Ministers to Pakistan in the first week of October 2018. During this visit, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will also finalise important economic partnership.
Note: Saudi Arabia has long history of financially bailing out Pakistan during economic crisis. Saudi Arabia had loaned Pakistan $1.5 billion in 2014 to strengthen its rupee currency, six months after Pakistan obtained its last IMF bailout.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
CPEC is flagship project as part of China’s multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), aimed at enhancing China’s influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects. CPEC aims to construct and upgrade transportation network, energy projects, deep-water port at Gwadar and special economic zones (SEZs) to eventually support Pakistan’s industrial development as manufacturing hub by 2030. CPEC will linking Gwadar in South Western Pakistan to China’s North Western region Xinjiang through vast network of highways and railways. The proposed project is financed by heavily-subsidised Chinese loans, disbursed to Pakistan Government by Chinese banking giants such as China Development Bank, Exim Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
According to recently released report of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India has emerged as fifth largest military spender in 2017. India had spent $63.9 billion on defence in 2017, an increase of 5.5% compared with 2016, when it was in the sixth spot overall.
Global defence spending: The world’s five biggest military spenders in 2017 are United States ($610 billion), China ($228 billion), Saudi Arabia (69.4 billion), Russia (66.3 billion) and India ($63.9 billion). They together accounted for 60% of global military spending. The total global military expenditure in 2017 rose to $1,739 billion, a marginal increase of 1.1% in real terms from 2016. It accounted for 2.2% of global gross domestic product in 2017.
India’s defence spending: It was higher than that of France ($57.8 billion), UK ($47.2 billion) and Germany ($44.3 billion) in 2017. It has grown in past decade for several reasons, including mounting salary bill for about 1.4 million serving personnel and pensions for more than 2 million veterans, projects worth billions of dollars to induct new warships, combat fighter jets, helicopters, artillery guns and infantry weapons and to enhance capabilities. India has been world’s largest weapons importer in last five years and arms exported by US to India during 2013-17 registered a 557% jump when compared to 2008-12.
China: It was second-largest defence spender globally in 2017. It had increased its defence spending by 5.6% to an estimated $228 billion in 2017. It defence spending share in global military expenditure rose from 5.8% in 2008 to 13% in 2017. It also accounted for 48% of Asian total and was 3.6 times that of India.
In Union Budget 2018-19, Government had allocated Rs. 2.95 lakh crore for military spending during 2018-19, down from Rs 2.74 lakh crore in 2017-18 budget. The military budget had slipped to just 1.57% of the GDP. The total figure includes Rs. 99,563 crore for buying new weapons and systems, which is up from Rs. 86,488 crore in previous fiscal. The budget had breached Rs. 4 lakh-crore mark after factoring in defence pensions (Rs. 1.08 lakh crore).
It in international institute based in Stockholm, Sweden. It dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. It was established in 1966. It provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources to policymakers, researchers, media and interested public.