ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb said on Wednesday that Pakistan was keen to access Chinese capital markets as the cash-strapped country looked to raise finances from international markets.

If that happens, it would be Pakistan's first venture into China's capital markets, Aurangzeb said.

Islamabad could return to the international bond market this year, he said at a business conference in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, where he was part of a delegation led by Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on a five-day official visit.

He has previously said that Pakistan would like to raise $300 million in Panda bonds by tapping the Chinese bond market as and when the country's credit rating improved.

Over 100 businessmen and companies from Pakistan were part of the delegation, seeking business opportunities days ahead of Pakistan's annual budget.

Islamabad and Beijing have long been close allies. China has always been forthcoming with financial help to Pakistan, which needs external financing support again, ahead of seeking a new long and longer IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

Chinese loan rollovers have in the past helped Pakistan improve its external financing health to secure IMF loans.

Beijing has over $65 billion in investment in road, infrastructure and development projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as part of President Xi's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The IMF held two weeks of talks with Pakistani authorities last month to discuss fiscal consolidation measures and structural reforms before formal negotiations for a new loan, which Islamabad hopes could be worth at least $6 billion.

Aurangzeb said Pakistan's macroeconomic indicators were showing a path to stabilization, with inflation slowing to a 30- month low.

"Policy rate will start moving down," the finance minister said of the key rate, which Islamabad had held steady at 22% for seven straight monetary policy meetings.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Bernadette Baum)