Chinese businessmen asked to take advantage of Pakistan’s investment potential

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ISLAMABAD, Jan 18 (APP): Minister for Commerce, Khurram Dastgir Khan on Monday urged the Chinese entrepreneurs to take advantage of Pakistan’s huge investment potential in various sectors to take the iron friendship of two countries to new heights.
“The advantage of the opportunities in energy, infrastructure and agriculture and participation in these sectors will work for the mutual benefit of our countries,” he said in his welcome address during inaugural session of Pakistan-China Business Opportunities Conference held here.
The Minister said, “Our government is focused on improving investment climate in the country through the implementation of Investment Strategy 2013-17.”
It hinges upon Public-Private Sector Dialogue (PPD) for policy formulation, FDI Generation and Promotion Campaign,
Investment Facilitation (one window operation), Development of
Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Coordination networks with
stakeholders, he added.
Pakistan, he said, has one of the most liberal foreign
investment regimes in South Asia. 100% foreign equity is
permitted in the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors as
the country has a market-oriented economy, with a rapidly
growing private sector.
“Our country has a very dynamic market and a large
consumer base of more than 180 million people,” he added.
Khurram Dastgir informed the participants of the
conference that the government inherited immense problems
related to the economy and security, where energy shortage
alone causes a loss of about 2% of our GDP annually.
“We are currently engaged in efforts on economic
recovery, improved security and good governance to attract
local and foreign investment. By the Grace of Almighty, these
efforts have started showing results,” he added.
The Minister said, over the past two and half years,
Pakistan’s economy has turned the corner and has made
significant progress.
In Financial Year 2014, Pakistan achieved GDP growth of
4.02 percent – the highest in six years – and increased it
further to 4.24 in Financial Year 2015, reaching the highest
level in seven years.
The fiscal deficit which stood at 8.2 percent at the end
of Financial Year 2013 has been brought down to 5.37 percent
in Financial Year 2015.
There has also been a significant increase in Pakistan’s
foreign exchange reserves, which have now reached the record
level of over US$ 20 billion.
Positive macroeconomic performance has resulted in a
soaring stock market and increased investment, he added.
Khurram Dastgir said China is Pakistan’s major trading
partner with volume of trade reaching an all-time high of US$
12.299 billion in 2014-15.
He said the two countries signed the China-Pakistan Free
Trade Agreement (CPFTA) on 24th November 2006, which became
operational from 1st July 2007.
Later, a Free Trade Agreement on trade in services was
also signed on 21st February 2009 and is operational since
10th October 2009. Prior to signing of CPFTA the volume of
trade between the two countries was in vicinity of US$ 4
billion out of which exports from Pakistan were US$ 575
million.
Over the years the trade volume has leapfrogged to US$
12 billion with Pakistan exports bourgeoning to US$ 2.1
billion in 2014-15, a more than three and a half times
increase.
In order to maximize exports and improve export
competitiveness of Pakistan, the Ministry of Commerce
announced a three year Policy Framework containing number of
institutional and governance measures.
Focus was to enable Pakistani firms to produce and
export more sophisticated and diversified range of products to
more markets and help reduce unemployment and poverty in
Pakistan.
He said that Pakistan’s political stability, economic
strength, and the prosperity of its people is inextricably
intertwined with our relationship with China, given that it is
our closest friend and also our most reliable partner.
The Minister said this is the first ever Pakistan-China
Business Opportunities Conference that the Ministry of
Commerce has organized but we hope to make it a regular
affair.
While thanking the Ambassador Sha Zukang for taking the
initiative to bring such a large delegation of Chinese
businessmen to Pakistan.
He expressed the confidence that Chinese entrepreneurs
interactions with prominent Pakistani businessmen in
Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi would open new avenues of trade
and investment cooperation between the countries.