LAHORE (HANDOUT) - A China-Pakistan Trade and Investment Symposium was held at the Embassy of Pakistan in Beijing. The event aimed at enabling participants from Pakistani business and investment community to interact with their Chinese counterparts in a business to business format (B2B) so as to expand mutual cooperation, investment, explore opportunities, and promote trade contacts between Chinese and Pakistani enterprises.

Ambassador Masood Khalid, in his address, said that the Government of Pakistan attached great value to facilitating Chinese business community in Pakistan. He urged the Chinese business community to explore Pakistan’s vast market potential. There were several products like cotton, cotton yarn, leather, rice, cereals, animal feed, stones, marble, gems for jewellery, fruits and vegetables where joint ventures could be considered. Pakistan being an agricultural country, Chinese companies could join Pakistani entities to develop the agriculture sector for our common food security, he added.

He said both nations had evolved a viable framework and legal architecture to develop their economic cooperation. There were several mechanisms such as the Joint Economic Commission, Joint Investment Company and sectoral frameworks to allow for meaningful cooperation. The Free Trade Agreement, which was signed in 2007 was fully operational. He said a wide trade gap existed but work was in progress on allowing easier access of Pakistani imports into China, provide a level playing field for our exporters and encourage investment and marketing missions from China for bulk purchases from Pakistan. On this occasion, Song Jianming, Deputy Director General of Beijing Municipal Commission of Commerce said that of the total import and export commodity trade volume between Beijing and Pakistan for the year 2014 was very encouraging. Beijing’s exports to Pakistan included mobile phones, heat exchange equipment and steel, while China’s import from Pakistan mainly focused on textile yarn, agricultural products and unwrought copper and copper products. He said that since this year was a special year of friendship between the two countries set to promote relations by enhancing exchanges, he welcomed Pakistani enterprises and trade delegations to participate with the Chinese counterparts in a series of business activities to be held in China, such as the Canton Fair, Imported Commodities Shopping Festival and E commerce Seminar, in order to exhibit and purchase commodities.

Lubna Pathan, Director General, Punjab Board of Investment was leading the delegation from Pakistan. In her speech she highlighted the business opportunity in Pakistan and the phenomenal returns that it offers. She emphasized by investing in Pakistan, on the one hand the investors may leverage on the opportunity to produce in an Special Economic Zone while on the other hand they may be able to export to European Union virtually duty free due to the GSP+ Status of Pakistan.  Pakistan offers an opportunity to invest in all sectors of the economy.

Agha Waqar Javed, member Public Private Partnerships (PPP) Planning and Development Department of the Govt of Punjab listed a set of opportunities that were available when government partnered with private sector and joined hands to deliver a project. The incentives included support by the govt. for facilitation in provision of utilities, licensing, right of way in infrastructure projects and rehabilitation and settlement where required, provision of viability gap funding for projects viable socially but not financially. He displayed several projects with attractive rates of return and invited Chinese enterprises to explore the opportunities.

During the Seminar and B2B sessions, Dr Erfa Iqbal Commercial Counselor at the Embassy, highlighted the trade policy issues and various steps taken by the Pakistan government to promote bilateral trade between China and Pakistan. She reiterated that such events opened up avenues for both sides to interact and explore win-win opportunities. Economic Minister Saleem Khan also spoke on the occasion. A Framework Memorandum of Cooperation between Beijing Zhubang Commercial Center, Beijing International Economic and Trade Development Association and Punjab Board of Investment & Trade (PBIT) was signed by Lubna Pathan, Director General, Punjab Board of Investment & Trade (PBIT) in Beijing.