Zardari seeks major economic deals with China

President discusses ways to increase regional trade with Chinese Premier.

November 13, 2010

GUANGZHOU: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari held a bilateral meeting on issues of common interest, on the sidelines of the 16th Asian Games being held in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.

The Chinese premier reiterated his intention to visit Pakistan next month to “deepen strategic cooperation” and develop a formal and structured dialogue at the ministerial level.

President Zardari called for a currency swap agreement to enable both countries to take full advantage of the Free Trade Agreement, which would allow bilateral trade to reach $15 billion. He also stressed the need for enhancing connectivity by working together on developing pipelines, rail links and fibre optic links.

Zardari urged China to invest in water and energy projects in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and in the Thar coal project in Sindh, while suggesting the institutionalisation of co-operation in the energy sector by setting up China-Pakistan Energy Corporation. The president said that the 14th session of Joint Economic Commission, to be held early next month in Islamabad, will be a great opportunity to review the range of bilateral relations for closer economic cooperation.

The President reiterated Pakistan’s full support to China on a host of issues, including Tibet, Taiwan and Xinjiang. Zardari described Pakistan-China strategic cooperation as vital for defending common interests and for countering forces of destabilisation. “China’s support for Pakistan’s stability and social development in these challenging times is a source of strength for us,” he said.

Speaking of Afghanistan, the President said “We welcome trans-regional economic co-operation between China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Chinese companies can use Pakistan as a logistical and transportation base for their investment in Afghanistan.”

Talking to the Chairman of the Guangdon Automobile industry, the President offered the Chinese automobile giant incentives to invest in Pakistan. The President asked the Chairman of Board of Investment Saleem Mandviwalla to stay behind in China for further discussions on the prospects of Chinese investment in the auto sector in Pakistan.

Spokesperson Farhatulluh Babar said that the second installment of commodity aid to G-B from China will begin next week. The consignment will consist of diesel, coal and food supplies, he added.  China has donated $250 million for flood relief and reconstruction, besides providing assistance to the stranded people in the upper Hunza Attabad Lake region.

Welcoming President Zardari, the Chinese Premier said: “Every visit of the President has further deepened the Pak-China cooperation”.

President Zardari also held a bilateral meeting with the Thai prime minister.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Malik Amad Khan, Ambassador Masood Khan, Chief Minister G-B Syed Mehdi Shah, Chairman Board of Investment Saleem Mandviwalla and spokesperson Farhatullah Babar also attended the meetings.

Published in The Express Triubne, November 13th, 2010.


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