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Friday June 14, 2024

Pakistan, China sign 32 MoUs to forge economic cooperation

Premier invites Huawei to increase investment in various sectors of Pakistan

By Ag App & Israr Khan
June 06, 2024
PM Shehbaz Sharif witnesses the signing framework agreement between the Ministry of IT and Chinese company Huawei in Shenzhen on June 5, 2024. — PID
PM Shehbaz Sharif witnesses the signing framework agreement between the Ministry of IT and Chinese company Huawei in Shenzhen on June 5, 2024. — PID

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China Wednesday further forged their economic collaboration by signing 32 MOUs in energy, infrastructure development, farming, engineering, construction and logistics sectors. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is currently visiting China to attend the Pak-China Business Forum.

Shehbaz arrived in Beijing on the second day of his five-day visit to China. He was slated to meet President Xi and other top leaders and oversee the signing of trade and investment agreements in various fields. Upon his arrival at the Beijing airport, he was received by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong.

Federal Minister for the Board of Investment Abdul Aleem Khan announced that 500 Chinese and 100 Pakistani companies participated in the Pak-China Business Forum. The event saw the signing of 32 MOUs alongside successful bilateral negotiations with the Chinese companies.

The forum, aimed at strengthening business ties between Pakistan and China, featured extensive discussions and agreements, further enhancing economic collaboration between the two nations.

Shehbaz held a crucial meeting with Zhu Zhaojiang, the founder and chairman of Transsion Holdings, in Shenzhen. Interest in investment opportunities in Transsion Holdings’ mobile manufacturing unit in Pakistan was expressed during the meeting, along with investment prospects in four sectors: mobile phone production, electric bikes, modern agriculture and fintech. The prime minister assured facilities for foreign investors and invited Transsion Holdings to produce goods in Pakistan for export.

Zhu Zhaojiang briefed the prime minister on the company’s current operations in Pakistan and its global exports. The company, with a mobile phone production unit already established in Pakistan, employs over 5,000 Pakistanis daily and seeks to expand its investment in the sector. Federal ministers and key figures from the Pakistani mobile phone industry, including the chairman of the All Pakistan Mobile Phone Manufacturing Association (APMPMA) and CEOs of Inovi Telecom, Airlink Communications, and Tecno Pak Electronics, attended the meeting, highlighting efforts to boost Pakistan’s mobile phone industry and enhance local manufacturing and export initiatives with China’s collaboration.

Aleem Khan and Commerce Minister Jam Kamal Khan also held meetings with the CEOs of major Chinese companies. Aleem emphasized the Pak-China Business Forum as an unparalleled opportunity for the Pakistani business community to engage with the Chinese investors, potentially boosting exports.

Speaking to entrepreneurs, Aleem assured that Pakistan would fully support the Chinese companies in setting up operations, granting the private sector freedom to invest in energy, infrastructure development, farming, engineering construction and logistics. He also noted the promising participation of prominent Pakistani businessmen in the China visit, indicating sectors like hotels, tourism, culture, sports goods, textile, decoration, and airport design as prime areas for future investment.

Aleem underscored Pakistan’s abundant natural resources and business potential, predicting large-scale economic activities that would drive growth and generate employment for the youth.

Aleem and Jam Kamal conducted various consultative meetings with key Chinese business groups, discussing bilateral proposals and finalizing plans for collaboration. The Ministry of Commerce, Board of Investment, and National Food Security from Pakistan participated in these business-to-business activities alongside their Chinese counterparts.

Both the ministers dedicated a busy day to detailed deliberations, agreements and negotiations with significant Chinese business groups and the Pakistani business community.

APP adds: Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited the Huawei headquarters and invited the company to invest in Pakistan’s taxation and e-governance sectors besides enhancing its presence in the Safe City projects. On his arrival at the headquarters, Huawei Chairman Liang Hua welcomed him. Later, the prime minister also attended the signing ceremony of a framework agreement between Huawei and Pakistan’s Ministry of Science and Technology under which the company would impart free of charge training to around 200,000 youngsters in information technology including artificial intelligence. Besides, the company would also extend its support to Pakistan in the establishment of Safe Cities, e-governance and digitisation of the economy.

Addressing the Pakistan-China Business Forum, Shehbaz assuring all-out facilitation to the Chinese investors and security of Chinese individuals, projects and investments in Pakistan, emphasized that mutually rewarding business-to-business cooperation was key to a bright future for the two people. He repeatedly lauded the Chinese model of development and economic transformation and vowed to replicate the same in Pakistan. “I will go back to Pakistan with this resolve, come what may, we will follow this model of great economic transformation in Pakistan. This model is enough to copy and simulate if we are sincere to our purpose and people,” he told the gathering of hundreds of business leaders from Pakistan and China.

As the Business Forum also marked the B2B matchmaking, he urged the Pakistani businessmen to sit with their Chinese counterparts and find out ways to move the Chinese textile industries to Pakistan and make joint collaborations in steel and other industries. He informed the Forum that Pakistan had mineral deposits of around $10 trillion while the country’s exports stood at $30 billion. The minerals deposits offer huge potential to dig out and convert them into finished and semi-finished goods for exports, he added.

He assured the Chinese side that his government had already initiated structural changes in Pakistan to control corruption. Prime Minister Shehbaz drew a comparison between the $500 billion GDP of the 13-million city of Shenzhen and the $380 billion GDP of Pakistan with 250 million population and called it the Chinese city’s swift transformation a “miracle of this century” and the “eighth wonder of the world”, necessitating for others to learn the lesson from.

He appreciated Chinese President Xi Jinping’s dynamic and visionary leadership. The prime minister also lauded President Xi’s vision of peace and development including the Belt and Road Initiative under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that had benefited Pakistan immensely through huge investment.

Referring to a terror attack on Chinese workers in Bisham in the recent past, the prime minister conveyed his condolence for the “dastardly and heart-wrenching” incident and called it “one of the saddest” days of his life when the whole nation felt saddened. He said the government had taken various measures to ensure foolproof security to protect the lives of Chinese workers in Pakistan. “I will spare no effort to protect the lives of Chinese workers and assure and guarantee that we will provide them security more than our children. This will never happen again,” he assured.

The deputy prime minister highlighted the country’s potential in IT, agriculture, mining and minerals and said that the Business Forum was different from the previous typical events as it featured matchmaking of business entities from Pakistan and China. He urged the Chinese businessmen to look into Pakistan’s potential and told them that the labor costs in Pakistan were very competitive.

Besides, for facilitation and smooth processing of investment, the Special Investment Facilitation Council has been formed under the prime minister with all relevant ministries and provincial chief ministers working under one umbrella for the purpose. He urged the Chinese firms to participate in the privatization process of around 84 state-owned enterprises under consideration.

Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb highlighting the country’s overall economic outlook told the gathering that all economic indicators were in the right direction and with a positive trajectory. “The agriculture GDP growth during this fiscal year of 6.25% is a real bright spot,” he said. He said the conference, attended by around 500 business leaders from Pakistan and China, would also provide an opportunity for the businessmen of both sides to network and forge mutually beneficial ventures.