“The relationship between Pakistan and China is a geopolitical keystone for both countries, and the solidarity between them is unmatched by any relationship between two sovereign states,” Ambassador of Pakistan to China Masood Khan has said. He was delivering a keynote address at a roundtable on ‘Accelerating Sino-Pakistan Economic Partnership’.
“We have a good architecture for economic and trade cooperation. A Joint Economic Commission oversees progress in the implementation of projects under the Five Year Development Programme for Economic and Trade Cooperation. The first cycle of the programme was concluded last year and we have launched the second five year programme which will end in 2016,” Khan said.
“Under this plan, 36 projects valued at $14 billion; covering energy, transport, information and communications technologies, industrial, agricultural, health care and education sectors; have been identified,” he added. “The Economic Cooperation Group will monitor their implementation at the working level,” he said.
He pointed out that Pakistan and China have signed free trade agreements on goods, services and investment. Since 2008, the total volume of trade between the two countries has grown by 70%; and Pakistani exports to China increased two-fold from $1 billion to $2.2 billion during the same period.
Khan said the Chinese market will absorb more Pakistani products if Pakistan has more goods and services to export. He further said the Chinese government will send official purchase missions to Pakistan to enhance our exports, while Pakistani traders are attending China’s trade and investment expos and fairs in larger numbers.
The Ambassador said strong private Chinese enterprises were entering the Pakistani market to invest in the energy and infrastructure development sectors. He said that Pakistani businesses were also increasingly looking towards China.
He said Pakistani entrepreneurs and enterprises need to understand how Chinese state and non-state enterprises work. The Chinese corporate sector has unique characteristics, he explained, which have to be studied, comprehended and assimilated.
“To accelerate the Pakistan-China economic partnership, Pakistan has to think big with its feet on the ground. We in Pakistan need to develop competencies and adopt efficient implementation strategies. As we do that, China – our brother and partner – may step forward to help us develop these competencies,” he said. “Only then we will have a fuller interface between the two economies.”
On the occasion, China Development Research Foundation Chairman Wang Meng Kui said that the Sino-Pakistan Economic Partnership roundtable aimed at achieving tangible benefits for the economic development of both countries, and to further strengthen bilateral ties. He welcomed the presence of leading Pakistani businesses at the roundtable and regarded it an excellent opportunity to discuss concrete steps for enhancing cooperation.
Spread over five sessions, the roundtable focused on current status, issues and future potential of Pakistan-China trade and economic cooperation; gathering recommendations on accelerating mutual economic cooperation; looking into the feasibility of establishing a Pak-China Investment Fund; and cooperation in the fields of energy, mining, infrastructure, manufacturing, telecom and finance.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2012.