FAISALABAD: The Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) has planned to take a delegation to Gilgit-Baltistan immediately after Ramazan in a bid to explore investment opportunities in the autonomous resource-rich region.
FCCI President Shabbir Hussain Chawla made the announcement on Wednesday while talking to a delegation of Gilgit-Baltistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, led by its President Nasir Hussain Raki.
Chawla pointed out that Gilgit-Baltistan was strategically located close to Afghanistan, China and Azad Jammu and Kashmir that provided road links for promotion of bilateral trade with these countries.
“Growing trade with China after the Belt and Road Initiative and construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam have further enhanced the region’s economic importance,” he said. Besides being a paradise for tourists, hikers and trackers, Chawla said Gilgit-Baltistan also had a huge potential for hydroelectric power projects and had vast reserves of precious metals and stones. However, “we need huge investments to commercially exploit this potential.”
He asked the Gilgit-Baltistan Chamber to play a proactive role in attracting maximum foreign investment and constitute a special committee on investment that could be able to provide credible information and guidance in relation to investment opportunities as well as certify credibility of local stakeholders.
“This will help potential investors in making investment with full peace of mind without any fear of fraud or high-handedness,” he remarked.
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Earlier, the Gilgit-Baltistan Chamber president highlighted the investment opportunities available in the areas of hydroelectric power generation, tourism, mineral exploration and horticulture development.
He revealed that many countries were interested in pouring capital into Gilgit-Baltistan, but emphasised that Pakistanis should take the lead and get maximum benefit from the emerging investment avenues.
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He announced that the Gilgit-Baltistan Chamber had planned to organise an investment conference and his current trip was aimed at contacting and extending invitation to potential investors to participate in the upcoming event.
He pointed out that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan had traditionally been trading with neighbouring China through the centuries-old Silk route under the barter system. However, after the construction of roads, the government is now planning to start formal trade with proper enforcement of Customs and other laws.
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He suggested that the Customs check post at Khunjerab should be shifted to Kohistan to allow the residents of Gilgit-Baltistan Customs-free access and in the meantime a proper system should be developed for the region.
An industrial zone is also being developed in Gilgit where electricity will be available at a very cheap rate of Rs2 per unit. However, being an under-developed area with rough terrain, there is no internet facility in the region.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2018.
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