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Pakistan seeks investment lift
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2011-05-20 09:44

With free-trade agreements, officials aim to double bilateral trade by 2015

More Chinese investment in Pakistan, especially in the energy, infrastructure, agriculture and technology sectors, will help lift the nation's economy to a new high, Pakistan's leader said.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called it a "win-win scenario".

Gilani, who began a four-day state visit to China on Tuesday, made the remarks at the Pakistan-China Entrepreneurs Forum held on Thursday.

Pakistani officials said their country could export more non-traditional goods such as "marble, leather, food and minerals" to China under the framework of China-Pakistan free-trade agreements (FTA), to realize the target of almost doubling bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2015. In the past, Pakistan exported mostly textile goods.

"As China diversifies its economy, with special emphasis on the development of its western regions, and shifts to high technology, the economic transition makes it attractive for Chinese companies to relocate and establish manufacturing bases in Pakistan," Gilani said.

"I would urge Chinese corporations to focus on Pakistan in their strategic business plans."

The sectors that hold huge potential for Chinese companies are "infrastructure, energy and natural resources".

Pakistan suffered heavy monsoon flooding last year and incurred huge losses. Its government is now attempting to reinvigorate the economy, discussing with China a second joint five-year economic and trade program, as the first one expires this year.

"Pakistan is a developing country, and our strategic priority is development. We are developing infrastructure, not only in railroad links, but also building new cities, airports and expressways," Gilani said.

China has helped Pakistan build the port of Gwadar, in Balochistan, and the Karakoram Highway, connecting northern Pakistan to western China.

However, the unstable political situation and shortage of energy resulted in foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan declining during recent months. According to Pakistan's central bank, FDI decreased by 28.6 percent to $1.23 billion in the 10 months leading up to April.

"As the political situation stabilizes and the economy keeps growing, there will be increased potential for investment, and Pakistan's exports will gradually pick up," said Wan Gang, China's minister of science and technology, at the forum.

The coming years will see more investment in "energy, infrastructure, telecommunications and agriculture," he said.

China Mobile Ltd, the world's largest mobile operator by market value, is planning to buy Pakistan operations from its parent, China Mobile Communications Corp, said China Mobile's Chairman Wang Jianzhou on Thursday.

The Asian Development Bank predicted that Pakistan's economy would grow by a moderate 2.5 percent in 2011, and by 3.7 percent in 2012.

Source:China Daily 
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