WASHINGTON, April 21 : Pakistan and China pledged here on Saturday to further bolster their trade and investment ties, with Islamabad’s Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and his Chinese counterpart Xie Xuren reaffirming close economic cooperation in a bilateral meeting at the World Bank.
“Pakistan-China friendship has stood the test of time—we reaffirmed our mutual desire to carry forward the close ties —-we discussed steps to try and reduce some of the tariffs so that trade can be further liberalized between the two countries,” Shaikh told APP after the meeting, which took place during the annual IMF-WB spring gathering of world finance leaders.
The Chinese finance minister informed his Pakistani counterpart about Beijing’s efforts towards facilitating further expansion and increase in imports from Pakisetan so that the balance of trade, which is currently heavily in favour of China, is redressed.
Pakistan-China bilateral trade has expanded by 22 percent to $10.6 billion in recent years , with Pakistan’s exports to China doubling from $1 billion in 2008 to $2.1 billion in 2011. According to Pakistani officials the two-way trade can rise to $ 15 billion in a few years.
Dr Shaikh looked forward to Chinese private sector making more investments into various promising sectors of the Pakistani economy including energy and infrastructure. Reciprocating the Pakistani finance minister’s remarks on expanding business ties, Xie Xuren said Beijing stands for encouraging its large private sector to expand investments in Pakistan and will continue to do so.
The two finance leaders also reviewed some of the pojects which the Chinese export import bank is financing in Pakistan.
“It was decided that we should prioritize some of the projects such as energy and infrastructure,” Dr Shaikh said.
The two leaders also took the opportunity to review success of other recent bilateral measures including the currency swap agreement, which is expected to deal with an amount totalling $ 1.5 billion (yuan 10 billion).
Dr Shaikh noted with satisfaction that the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has opened two branches in Pakistan, a step, which he said, would further strengthen financial ties between the two neighbours.
“There was a reiteration of the desire on both sides to give more momentum to trade and investment relations,” said the Pakistani finance minister, who is leadeing a team of top Pakistani economic managers to the annual meetings of global financial institutions.
Both leaders also shared the progress in the two neighbours’ national economies, with Shaikh using the opportunity to highlight some upbeat signs about Pakistan’s economic rebound, in the face of global contraction. Pakistan’s economy will grow at 4 percent of its GDP this year, with exports registering an impressive 6 percent increase. Revenue generation has also beeen growing by 25 percent and foreign remittances are also helping the country tide over losses to nautral disasters like 2010 floods and security situation in the region, Shaikh said.
During the meeting, the Pakistani and Chinese finance minister also reviewed the global economic situation and recovery efforts being pursued.
Source : MGCT By Ali Imran
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