China an important partner in Pak economic development: Shehbaz

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Lahore: Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif said Wednesday that China was a very important partner in Pakistan Economic Development and Bilateral trade and involvement of Chinese enterprises both in term of technical and financial assistance in several development projects is reflective of our cordial relations based on mutual trust and sincerity.

He was speaking at Pakistan-China Business Opportunities Conference jointly organized by Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) and Punjab Board of Investment & Trader (PBIT) at a local hotel.

A 100-member Chinese delegation also attended the Conference while LCCI President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad, Senior Vice President Almas Hyder, Vice President Nasir Saeed also spoke on the occasion while Consul General of China in Lahore Yu Boren, Chairman Pak-China Friendship Association Sha Zukang, Provincial Minister Ayesha Ghous Pasha, Chairman Punjab Board of Investment & Trade Abdul Basit, former LCCI Presidents, Senior Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents and Executive Committee Members were also present in the Conference.

The Chief Minister said that China was the most reliable friend that always stood with Pakistan and helped her in all respects. He termed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as an energy and infrastructure programme with USD 46 billion investment in Pakistan.

He said USD 46 billion was the biggest investment ever made by China in any foreign country, adding that this programme would help end power outages in the country and ensure seamless connectivity between China, South and Central Asia.

Shehbaz Sharif said that investment climate was getting better with every passing day due to best policies of Punjab government and all possible facilities are being provided to foreign investors.

Punjab is Pakistan’s economic heartland and presents tremendous opportunities for investment which, if fully utilized, will reap rich dividends for investors, he maintained.

On this occasion, Chinese Consul General Yu Boren said that both Pakistan and China had huge potential to increase the bilateral trade as the existing volume of two-way trade between the two countries was very small when it was compared with the total Chinese business.

He said that incentive package and China-Pak Economic Corridor was enough to make the point that China gave top priority to Pakistan in terms of business and trade. He said, “China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a truly magnificent project, testifies that both Pakistan and China want to play a major role in creating enormous economic opportunities for our people.”

While, the LCCI President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad stressed upon the need for holding events like investment conference on reciprocal basis to pave the way for much-needed foreign investment in the country. He said that both the countries not only share border but also have unanimity of views on various political and economic issues.

He said that two countries have a combined market of more than 1.5 billion people but the trade volume needs to be pushed up, asserting that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects would change the destiny of Pakistan.

Sheikh Arshad said that most of raw material is being imported for the projects under the CPEC, and suggested that Pakistani material approved from Pakistan Engineering Council should be used for the CPEC projects. Chinese technological advancement could help Pakistan overcome economic challenges in a short span of time, he said and announced to set up a ‘China Desk’ at the LCCI to provide necessary information to the investors.

He informed the participants of the Conference that Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry is making all out efforts to bring the private sector of the two friendly countries closure together.

The LCCI is also organizing Chinese language courses for its member so that they could interact with their Chinese counterparts quite easily, he mentioned.

The LCCI Senior Vice President Almas Hyder said that Chinese investment in energy projects will certainly solve the issue of energy shortage in Pakistan. He invited the Chinese businessmen to enhance their investment in priority sectors including Oil and Gas, Mining, Infrastructure, Power and IT & Telecom etc. He said that though trade has been increased from USD 9.3 billion in 2013 to USD 11.8 billion in 2014 but sti

ll there is a lot of room for enhancement of trade and economic ties. Chairman Pak-China Friendship Association Sha Zukang spoke high about Pakistan and said that CPEC would further cement trade and economic ties between the two countries.

He said that China-Pakistan relations had become an example of state to state relations. He said both countries looked forward to have further exchanges of visits, to have more high level contacts to promote mutual friendship and cooperation in various fields including politics, economy and people to people contacts. He said China Pakistan Economic Corridor would be further promoted, particularly cooperation in trade, investment, energy and communications would be strengthened.

The Conference was divided into two segments. First half included introduction, orientation and presentations while the second half focused on constructive business engagements with public sector and prominent businessmen from the private sector.

Representatives of all government attended the event to highlight prospects and opportunities in Punjab and facilitate any queries of the foreign and local businessmen. In addition, the PBIT also supervised B2B and G2B sessions focusing on different sectors including energy, mines, health, transport, textiles, agriculture, IT etc.