PM bats for CPEC

  • Woos Chinese investers
  • Meets Chinese counterpart
BEIJING: Prime Minister Imran Khan inspecting Guard of Honour along with his Chinese counterparty Li Keqiang upon reaching at the Great Hall of the Peoples here on Tuesday. – Agencies

From Mahnoor Makhdoom
BEIJING: Prime Minister Imran Khan who is on an official visit to China, on Tuesday assured Chinese investors of efforts to ease practices of doing business in Pakistan as he wooed businessmen in Beijing and encouraged them to invest in Pakistan as it is “great time of doing business.”
Speaking at the China Council for Promotion of International Trade, the premier said all investments related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will now be dealt from the PM office in order to remove all hurdles faced by investors.
“We have formed the CPEC Authority so that my office can make it easier for people investing in Pakistan,” said the prime minister.
“Pakistan has completed phase one of Gwader Free Zone and the country is encouraging businesses to make big profits as the wealth creation will enable us to lift the people out of poverty on the pattern of China,” elaborated the prime minister.
During the event, PM Imran also invited Chinese companies to invest in textile, IT and financial services along with physical and technological logistics, agriculture, oil and gas, tourism and hospitality sectors.
Citing reasons to invest in Pakistan, PM Imran said that the formation of specialeconomic zones (SEZs) has come a long way. “It’s an exciting time in Pakistan as we open up our country for business,” he said. “It is a great opportunity for people to come and invest, and as we change the mindset in Pakistan, we want businesses to come and make money.” Highlighting corruption being one of the biggest hurdles for investors in the country, the premier wished that “he could follow President Xi Jinping’s example and put 500 people in jail.”
However, he said that the process in Pakistan is “very cumbersome.”
After the event, the prime minister was received by Premier of the State Council of the Peoples’ Republic of China Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People.He was presented a guard of honour by a smartly turned-out contingent of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). PM Imran is expected to hold further meeting after the reception. Foreign investment in different sectors of Pakistan’s economy slowed down by 23 per cent to $1.62 billion in first eight months (Jul-Feb) of the current fiscal year 2018-19 following completion of several early harvest projects of the CPEC “A shift in government’s policy towards attracting new foreign investment in export and import substitution sectors rather than continuing to welcome capital injection into import-dependent sectors caused the slowdown in foreign investment in the country,” an analyst commented.
According to him, the economic slowdown and lack of clarity whether Pakistan will agree on a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also contributed to the decline in foreign investment.
Despite a notable drop in cumulative investment from China, the all-season friend still remained the largest foreign investor in Pakistan in Jul-Feb FY19. On the other hand, construction and power sectors emerged as the top two sectors in terms of drawing foreign investment. Foreign direct investment (FDI) stood at $2.09 billion in the corresponding eight months of the previous fiscal year, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reported.
Earlier, Prime Minister held an important meeting with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang where both premiers discussed international matters including Kashmir issue and situation in the region.
Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at the Great Hall in Beijing, where he was received by Chinese Prime Minister. PM Imran Khan received the guard of honor by Chinese military while national anthems of both countries were also played. Chinese Premier Li also met with Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Pakistani Ministers.
PM Imran Khan apprised Premier Li about the situation in occupied Kashmir and thanked the Chinese leadership for supporting Pakistan at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The two leaders met at the delegation level after one-on-one meeting in which other projects, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), were discussed.
The Pakistani delegation comprised of COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Railway Minister Sheikh Rasheed, Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Khusro Bakhtiar and Director General Inter-Service Public Relations (DG ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor. China Gezhouba Group Corporation Chairman Lyu Zexiang on Tuesday called on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing and expressed keen interest for investment in the energy sector of Pakistan. Mr Zexiang also expressed interest in exploring new business avenues in Pakistan. Meanwhile,China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) is one of the most competitive listed companies with very strong financing capabilities. It has expanded its businesses in more than 100 hundred countries.
Moreover, Orient Holdings Group Limited Chairman Jiang Xueming held a meeting with PM Khan.
Orient Group has business areas involving infrastructure construction, real estate development, construction materials, chemical fibre, mining, e-commerce, new materials and intelligent manufacturing, etc. Later, Long March Tyre Company CEO Li Qingwen also met PM Khan and discussed matters pertaining to investment in Pakistan.
Chaoyang Long March Tyre Co Ltd is a member of the Lianoning Tyre Group and is one of the best tyre manufacturers. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Razaq Dawood, Special Assistant to the PM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar and Board of Investment (BOI) Chairman Zubair Gilani were also present in the meeting. Importantly, the chairman of the China Metallurgical Group Corporation – the longest running construction group in China’s iron and steel industry – also called on the premier. PM Khan has invited Chinese companies to invest in the diverse sectors of Pakistan including housing, textile, manufacturing, information technology (IT) and financial services, physical and technological logistics, agriculture, oil and gas, and tourism and hospitality. The premier addressed China Council for Promotion of International Trade in Beijing and outlined that Pakistan has taken measures to facilitate businesses. “It is great time for Chinese companies to invest in Pakistan.”
He assured that the PM Office would deal with all major investments including those of the CPEC. The PM mentioned to have established the CPEC Authority to resolve all outstanding issues hindering the implementation of the CPEC projects.
He said Gwadar smart port city master plan has been approved. “Work on the Gwadar airport is in progress and it will be completed soon […] we are now especially concentrating on our Special Economic Zones (SEZs)” he said. Khan said Pakistan has been encouraging businesses to make big profits as stable economy would enable the state to lift the people out of poverty on the pattern of China.
He said the second phase of the CPEC would primarily focus on industrial and agriculture cooperation. He said Pakistan aims to learn from the experiences of China to enhance the productivity of our agriculture sector. The PM said security situation has improved in Pakistan due to the efforts of security forces and intelligence agencies.
“Pakistan is one of the safest places for investment in the world. We have established a special security force for the protection of Chinese workers.”
He said the present government has also liberalised the visa regime and the Chinese nationals could obtain visa-on-arrival at the international airports.
Alluding to the geostrategic location of Pakistan, Imran Khan said Pakistan’s unique location and its young and vibrant population has made it an attractive country for investment. He said our labor cost was only about 20 percent of that in China. The PM said his government has taken a conscious decision to ensure ease of doing businesses. P M Khan hailed economic progress achieved by China, saying that it was an example for the whole world how the country has lifted 700 million people out of poverty over the last 30 years. He appreciated Chinese President Xi Jinping’s campaign to eradicate corruption.