The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday expressed optimism that Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s visit to Pakistan will help open up new avenues of cooperation besides reinforcing the economic partnership between the two countries as in the era of globalization, interdependence is the basic feature defining state-to-state relations.
In a statement issued here, the LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that the business community has attached great significance to Chinese Prime Minister’s visit to Pakistan that is going to intensify the economic cooperation between the two sides.
The LCCI President said that the bond between China and Pakistan is unbreakable and the trade and economic ties as a whole have maintained growth momentum. “Pakistani nation has feelings of great respect for China who always extended admirable cooperation to the Pakistan at all fronts. China has always backed Pakistan in areas of mutual benefit and Pakistani people are proud of Pak-China exemplary friendship.”
He said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes that China is an important regional and international player; therefore, its role is crucial in many ways. He said that at a time when Chinese are striving to explore the untapped market in Pakistan, the business community here is desirous of transfer of Chinese technology to upgrade their manufacturing facilities.
Currently, bilateral trade between Pakistan and China stands at $12 billion a year. “We will certainly want to push this figure to over $15 billion in next two years,” said the LCCI President. More than 100 Chinese companies are already working on different projects in Pakistan with an investment of about $2bn. “Pakistan has already given China a contract to develop and operate the Gwadar Port, and both countries don’t seem to want to stop there, and will work on deepening their economic and trade ties.”
He said that Pakistan is the first South Asian country to sign a free trade agreement and currency swap agreement with China, and it is the largest destination of Chinese investment in South Asia. China is Pakistan’s second largest trading partner and fourth largest export market.
He said that important agreements and MoUs in the fields of economy, science and technology, space & upper atmosphere communication and energy would put Pakistan’s economy on path to recovery.
The Chinese premier is accompanied by a high powered delegation, comprising Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Minister for Commerce Gao Hucheng and Chairman of National Development Reform Commission Xu Shaoshi, high ranking officials and leaders of the corporate sector. They are expected to set up the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which would turn Pakistan into a hub of regional cooperation. Under this programme, China will make large investments in Gwadar Port, including setting up an oil city.
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