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'China to invest over $800 million in Pakistan': bilateral trade to touch $15 billion

11 July, 2007

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KARACHI: China will invest over 800 million dollars in different sectors in Pakistan during the current fiscal year. Dr Salman Shah, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Economic Affairs, said this in his keynote address at the preparatory seminar for the forthcoming Pak-China investment conference, organised by the Board of Investment (BoI) at a local hotel on Tuesday.

The Pak-China investment conference is scheduled to be held in Pakistan in August. Dr Salman Shah pointed out that Pak-China bilateral trade would reach 15 billion dollars under the five-year economic co-operation agreement. "This would be a balanced trade as the imports and exports from both the countries would be of the same worth", he added.

He said that the five-year economic co-operation agreement was a very important development as the relationship between the two brotherly countries would be more strengthened.

Regarding Pak-China free trade agreement (FTA), the advisor said that it was the first FTA signed by China with any country. He said Pakistan had a potential to become a hub for producing quality products globally, however, there was need of modern technology. "We have enough raw material, which can be value-added through modern technology", he said.

"We are the sixth biggest populated country in the world and, on the other hand, we are the sixth biggest economy of the world", he said, and added: "Over 100 million of our people are under 25 and 44 percent of our total population is under 19.

"We have a huge local consumption market as over two million mobile phones are being sold in the country per month and we are third biggest domestic consumer in the world after India and China", he observed.

He said that the country's economy was growing tremendously as the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate would sustain over seven percent. "There are very good indicators regarding growing economy as the stock market has made new records and now it is at all time highest levels," he added. He said Pakistan had fourth largest labour force in the world after China, India and the US, which should be fully utilised to gain.

He said Pakistan had huge investment potential mainly in financial, telecom, services and manufacturing sectors. "We should initiate more export-oriented projects to minimise trade deficit", he said, and stressed the need for initiating joint ventures with the Chinese investors in the country.

He said that China was the biggest economy in the world. "We must learn from China, which achieved this status because of its consistent policies and making economic zones", he added. He asked the Pakistani business community to think about joint ventures with Chinese investors in Pakistan. "Our Chinese friends can find good trade partners in Pakistan", he said, adding: "We are fortunate to have a neighbour like China and we should take full advantage of this neighbourhood."

He said that many Chinese companies were working on different projects, including Gwadar and other heavy industry projects in Pakistan. China had planned to set up an economic zone in Pakistan. This huge economic zone would be spread over an area of 3500, he said.

Sindh Minister for Culture and Tourism, Rauf Siddiqui said that the government was committed to provide all necessary facilities to the business community so that they could continue their trade activities in peace and safety.

He pointed out that the government had planned two very important projects and Jinnah International Safari was one of them. This mega project was spread at 150 square miles in Sukkur.

He offered the investors from Pakistan as well from abroad to come and invest in this mega project, which was only 65 kilometres away from Moin-jo-Daro. He offered the investors to invest in this project on build, operate and transfer (BoT) basis, and assured them that they could recover their investment in just two years.

He also offered the Chinese investors to invest in this mega project, and said that they would be provided all facilities. Chinese Commercial Consular Wang Qihui said that China had invested 230 million dollars in Pakistan during the last fiscal year and would invest over 500 million dollars only in Sunder economic zone during the current fiscal year.

President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Tanveer Ahmed Shaikh said that there was much potential for foreign investment mainly in energy, telecom, pharmaceutical and packaging and processing of fruits and vegetables sectors.

He invited the Chinese investors to invest in these sectors in Pakistan. BoI Director General Arif Elahi said that over 150 leading investors would attend the Pak-China investment conference, which would be held in August.

In the second session of the seminar, Dr Junaid Iqbal, Investment Advisor, Ministry of Finance, in his presentation on "Pak-China investors conference - Concepts for spurring Pak-China investment" briefed the participants about the investment opportunities in different sectors in Pakistan.

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