URUMQI: President Asif Ali Zardari said on Thursday that enhanced rail, road and air connectivity in the Eurasian corridor was important for regional development.
While addressing the China-Eurasia Economic Development and Cooperation Forum after the opening ceremony of the first China-Eurasia Expo, the president said that the need for bringing China and Eurasia together had never been greater.
The president also visited the Pakistan pavilion at the expo and showed keen interest in various traditional Pakistani products such as artificial jewellery and carpets.
Meanwhile, President Zardari met China’s Executive Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday. During the meeting, the president said that an umbrella corporation should be set up under an energy cooperation mechanism called “Pakistan-China Power Corporation.” The president noted with satisfaction the increase in bilateral trade volume by $2 billion to $8.7 billion and vowed to meet the target of $15 billion in the next three to four years.
President Zardari appreciated Chinese help in launching PAKSAT-1R on Aug 12 and termed it another milestone in Pakistan-China relations.
He welcomed the opening of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) in Pakistan. He expressed his hope that the People’s Bank of China would speed up the conclusion of a currency swap agreement.
President Zardari said that the government had accepted the proposal of China Reconstruction Bridge Corporation (CRBC) for the construction of 13 kilometres of new KKH route and rehabilitation of 22 kilometres of the existing sections of KKH.
The president also sought Chinese investment in the proposed new city of Zulfikarabad in Sindh. He told the Chinese vice premier about Pakistan’s plan to float infrastructure bonds and invited Chinese investment in this regard.
Meanwhile, talking to the heads and chief executive officers (CEOs) of China’s major industrial and corporate sector companies on Wednesday, President Zardari said that with Pakistan’s vast natural resources and its pro-investment policies, the country was an ideal place for foreign investors.
During his meeting with the chairman and CEO of Goldwind, one of the largest wind turbine manufacturers in the world, the president said that Pakistan had huge potential to produce wind power.
“The Gharo-Keti Bandar wind corridor alone can produce approximately 50,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity,” he said, adding that Pakistan expected to generate at least five per cent of its total power production from alternative renewable energy sources by 2030.
He said that the government would provide Chinese companies with full facilitation through Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) “Banks and financing institutions may finance commercial projects through equity sharing,” he added.
While talking to the chairman of Jinchuan Group, one of the biggest mining companies in the world in nickel, copper, platinum, and non-ferrous metals, the president thanked him for showing interest in investing in Pakistan. He said that with a Chinese state-owned company already operating Saindak copper mines in Balochistan, a number of Chinese companies were now taking interest in developing the Thar coal fields.
President Zardari also met the representative of Beiqi Foton Motor Company, a state-owned auto manufacturer based in Beijing. In view of its recent agreement to supply 400 buses to Lahore and 2,000 buses to Karachi, the president appreciated the company for exploring business opportunities in Pakistan’s public transport sector.
“Foton Motor Company will be welcomed to focus on other cites as well to overcome transportation issues and improve inter- and intra-city connectivity,” he said. The president invited the company to establish its plant in Pakistan for the manufacturing of CNG buses and other vehicles.
Representative of Orient Group, an investment group that operates in six major industries, the president said that the company should take advantage of investment opportunities in Pakistan in the fields of petroleum, natural resources, infrastructure and energy.
The president also welcomed the purchase of assets of British Petroleum (BP) in Pakistan by Orient Group for $775 million.
While talking to the chairman of Sinotrans, one of China’s largest construction companies that built the dry port at Sost in Gilgit-Baltistan, the president appreciated his interest in Pakistan and hoped that the company’s investment in the country would be enhanced even further.
The president said that Pakistan was building Diamer-Bhasha Dam (4,500MW) and Bunji Dam in Gilgit-Baltistan (7,000MW) and would welcome Chinese companies to participate in the bidding process.
Also, two memorandums of understanding (MoU) were signed between the All China Federation for Industry and Commerce (ACFIC) and the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPPCI), and
Foton Motor Company and the Sindh government, for cooperation in trade and transport, respectively.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2011.