Federal Secretary Board of Investment Azhar Ali Chaudhry attended “Belt & Road” China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Investment Construction Cooperation Forum in Beijing, China recently.
The relationship between our two brotherly countries is deep rooted and not transactional, said Federal Secretary. It is a time tested and trusted relationship and our people deem China as a true and trusted friend of Pakistan. We share common interests and aspirations and are confident of having mutually assured cooperation in all walks.
Iconic projects such as the Karakorum Highway, Chashma Power Plants, Heavy Mechanical and Electrical Complexes, the Gwadar deep sea port, and now the gigantic CPEC, are all witnesses to the outstanding cooperation between our two countries.
This depth and intensity of our relationship creates an ideal platform for our trade and investment relations. Quantum of bilateral trade is around 1/5th of Pakistan’s international trade whereas during the first three quarter of this financial year (in Pakistan the financial year is Jul-jun), out of total FDI in Pakistan almost 54% originated from China. Surely, we expect deepening of this relationship; currently imports from China into Pakistan are almost triple our exports to China. FDI from China in first three quarters was US$ 516 million: it’s an over 150% increase over the same period last year.
Talking about Board of Investment, he said that it has been mandated to promote and facilitate investment into the country.
Being investment facilitation agency, we would like to assure that BOI is committed to provide all possible assistance towards materializing your initiatives and resolving any issue that may require our assistance. Some facilitation measures have already been introduced these are:-
- All foreign workers in Chinese companies and/or projects will be granted a visa maximum by seventh day
- Visa validity has been enhanced to five years and allows for multiple entries
- Pakistani missions in China have been authorized to issue multiple entry work visas of one year validity to the Chinese workers for Government approved/sponsored projects in public and private sectors
- Special arrangements for security of personnel and projects are being put in place
Pakistan follows a very liberal investment regime. All sectors of the economy are open to foreign investment and business opening process has been simplified; foreign investors can hold up to 100% equity in manufacturing. There are no restrictions on remittance of profits and returns.
Our regulatory framework offers full legal protection to foreign investment. Special Economic Zones that enjoy an incentives package are being established all over the country with efficient infrastructure and one window facility.
Our strengths coupled with the all encompassing Free Trade Agreement between our two countries present unlimited opportunities for producing in Pakistan. These factors translate into huge investment potential in many sectors including energy, infrastructure, construction, I.T & Telecom, health, education and agriculture sectors. A number of Chinese businesses now have a long history of association with Pakistan, and are enjoying good return on their investments. This has understandably encouraged some of these companies to expand their investments in Pakistan. We welcome this and strongly feel that this forum will play a key role in disseminating their good stories and business experiences in Pakistan to potential investors from China.
The latest manifestation of depth of our relationship is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor which is a multifold development package. It covers not only vital transportation road link but rail and energy links as well. Enhanced connectivity between China and Pakistan will alter the geo-economic landscape of East Asia-West Asia neighborhood.
Once such connectivity becomes effective, Pakistan will act as a vital bridge between China, Middle East, Africa and Europe. This route could then be used for transportation of oil and gas or laying pipelines. The corridor will drastically shorten the distances for China’s trade that now takes place through the Indian Ocean and the Malacca Straits.
Gwadar Port is the crown jewel of CEPEC and is being developed into a full-fledged regional hub and a trans-shipment port. This port is a gateway to the Gulf, which is an important route for oil tankers bound for western countries out of Gulf.
Government of Pakistan has declared ‘Gwadar’ as a Duty Free Port and a Free Economic Zone. This has not only enhanced its commercial worth but has also accelerated the pace of development. Being a strategically located deep sea port Gwadar will soon turn into a trade hub comparable to Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. I am sure that with the efforts of China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) will surely Gawadar will be ranked among the busiest and most efficient ports of the world, said Federal Secretary in his speech.
Federal Secretary said that We are planning to establish Special Economic Zones not only in Gwadar but alongside the corridor. Multiple sites have been identified throughout the country and each economic zone will target specific products and services, based on the availability of local raw material, workforce and other such factors. This will provide huge investment opportunities to our Chinese friends.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor related projects including energy and infrastructure would be a good starting point for the private sector through PCICL, which has a portfolio of US $ 200 Million for project investment. Let me apprise you that both BOI and PCICL have agreed to jointly take forward this initiative and follow-up the proposals and projects vigorously to make them a reality. We hope to have a formal agreement very soon.
In the end, Federal Secretary thanked the organizers and Chinese friends. He said that he is confident that the private sectors of Pakistan and China will create even greater linkages and inter-dependences for our mutual benefit and thereby contribute towards the further strengthening of Pakistan-China friendship.
Forum was attended by Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform of Pakistan, Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri, Chief Minister, Balochistan Province of Pakistan, Madame Zhao Baige, Chairperson, Advisory Committee of the Research and Development International (RDI); Vice Chairperson, Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, Mr. Fang Qiuchen, Chairman China International Contractors Association (CHINCA), Mr. Li Peng, Managing Director, Pak-China Investment Company, Major General Muhammad Afzal, Director General, Frontier Works Organization (FWO).