HBL to open first Pakistani bank branch in China by year end

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ISLAMABAD, Jun 20 (APP): Habib Bank Limited (HBL) would open its first branch in Uramqi (China), the largest city of province Xinjiang to facilitate business community and further give impetus to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

Addressing a joint press conference along with HBL Chairman Sultan Ali Allana here on Monday, Minister for Commerce Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan said that this would be the first Pakistan bank which would open its first branch in Chinese city of Uramqi before the end of this year.

“This will not only facilitate business community and traders but also give an impetus to $46 billion CPEC projects further boosting economy of Pakistan”, he remarked.

The Commerce Minister said that earlier opening up of bank branches in China was very difficult but due to the efforts and good relationships between China and Pakistan, the Chinese government has relaxed the rules paving the way for opening of its branch in China.

He said the asset requirement for any foreign bank to open its branch was US $20 billion but China gave special concession to Pakistan and the minimum asset requirement was reduced to $15 billion.

Khurram Dastgir termed the decision of HBL to open its branch in Uramqi was a timely step as what he said Urumqi was a growing commercial and trade center and the regional hub for China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Central Asia.

He said the programme was closely linked to the CPEC which would connect Gwadar port in Balochistan to Xinjiang.

The minister assured the HBL authorities of the ministry’s full support in making the branch functional in China.

Sultan Ali Allana, Chairman of HBL said that the HBL branch would start functional in Uramqi by the end of this year.

He said HBL would expand its network in China initially on the trade rout of CPEC.

“We would go where there is Pakistan’s strategic interest in China”, he added.

To a question, Khurram Dastgir hoped that the opening up of the Pakistani bank branch in China would also help documentation of trade and would resolve the issue of under invoicing and over invoicing.