LAHORE/BEIJING   -  Prime Minister Imran Khan met a delegation of Chinese investors from around 100 Chinese investment companies, mostly from the Shandong province, China, led by Mr. Javed Afridi at Governor House Lahore today.

Governor Punjab Chaudhary Muhammad Sarwar, Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Chairman BOI Syed Zubair Haider Gilani, SAPM Information & Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan and SAPM Naeem ul Haq were present during the meeting.

The investors expressed their eagerness to explore the possibility of investment in diverse sectors of Pakistan saying the country has huge investment potential in various sectors and the CPEC has further opened new avenues of growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). They expressed their willingness to invest with Small and Medium Enterprises of Gujranwala, Gujrat and Sialkot Triangle.

Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed the Chinese investors and appreciated their willingness to invest in the SME sector of Pakistan. The Prime Minister said that the present government is committed to ease of doing business for foreign investors, and streamlining the existing regulatory framework for investment to avoid wastage of time and resources for the prospective investors.

The Prime Minister while assuring the visiting Chinese investors maximum facilitation said that the country has embarked on the path of economic stability, the present Government is especially focusing on SMEz as it leads to employment generation and poverty alleviation.

The Prime Minister reiterated that the Government will make it easier for Chinese companies to capitalize huge investment potential of Pakistan. China is our close ally and friend, and it has always been there to support us, the Prime Minister stated.

Meanwhile, China will provide market access to 90% of Pakistani commodities at zero duty to help the latter correct trade imbalances. This is estimated to increase Pakistan’s exports to China by $500 million, under the free trade agreement phase-II between two countries.

According to a China Economic Net’s report, China will invest $1 billion in 27 projects in education, health, agriculture, irrigation, human resource development and poverty alleviation sectors.

Official statistics show that the CPEC initiative has created 70,000 direct jobs for the locals in the past five years, and per capita income has increased by 23%. Based on incomplete statistics, 17 projects under CPEC paid taxes of $930 million to the Pakistan government.

Pakistan’s GDP growth in the 2013-2014 fiscal year after the start of the construction under CPEC increased from 3.7% in the previous fiscal year to 4.14%, and has since then maintained growth, hitting 5.79% in the fiscal year 2017-2018.

According to a recent report by the Economic and Commercial Counselor’s Office of the Chinese Embassy to Pakistan, under second phase of CPEC, promotion of industrial cooperation on the basis of special economic zones will be a priority area, and investment in private sector and establishment of joint ventures will be encouraged.

Recently, while meeting with Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Muhammad Hammad Azhar, the newly-appointed Federal Minister for Economic Affairs of Pakistan, has reaffirmed his support for China and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The envoy stated that Minister Azhar has rich experience in financial and economic work, and believed that he will lead the Economic Affairs Ministry to play an important role in the economic and social advancement of Pakistan.

China-Pakistan cooperation in energy has progressed rapidly in the past five years, seeing the completion and roll-out of seven energy projects which meet the electricity demand of 8.6 million households. In 2018, the Port Qasim Power Station and the Sahiwal Power Station combined to generate more than 16 billion kWh of electricity, accounting for a quarter of Pakistan’s generating capacity.

The Sahiwal Power Station was dubbed by the Pakistan government as a miracle in the country’s history of electric power.

In the field of infrastructure, the Pakistani “Orange Line” rail transit project undertaken by the Chinese enterprise was put into operation in 2018, and it reduces travel time from two-and-a-half hours to 45 minutes, thus saving about 70% of the time for locals.