China-Pakistan looking to further enrich business ties under BRI: China Daily

China-Pakistan looking to further enrich business ties under BRI: China Daily

BEIJING: China and Pakistan are looking to further enrich their business ties in areas, including multimodal goods transport, high-end manufacturing, renewable energy sources and other service sectors under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Both the economies have deployed a large number of resources into regional connectivity, manufacturing and modern agriculture, and they are strong supporters of the multilateral trade system and investment growth, said Sun Xiao, director-general of the multilateral cooperation department of the Beijing-headquartered China Chamber of International Commerce, according to China Daily on Monday.

"They have been defending openness as a means of progress, job creation and global economic recovery since 2008," he said.

Trade between China and Pakistan amounted to $13.2 billion in 2017, accounting for 16.4 percent of Pakistan's total foreign trade, according to the data from the China Council for the Promotion of International Tradeshow.

China mainly exports raw materials, computers, telecommunication equipment, trucks, chemicals, medical equipment, plastic and rubber products, textiles and household appliances to Pakistan.

While Pakistan's shipments to China include minerals, cement, optical and medical equipment and accessories, garments and agricultural products.

China will promote cooperation between the customs and quarantine authorities of both countries to facilitate the further opening-up of its agricultural product market to Pakistan, said Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan.

"China will, under the framework of free trade cooperation between the two countries, provide a larger market share for Pakistani goods, and strengthen cooperation and facilitate trade between China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Pakistan's Gilgit-Baltistan region," Yao added. "The country also will take further visa facilitation measures to encourage more Pakistani businesspeople to visit China."

Eager to further enhance their business ties, a new rail and road cargo service was launched in late October, linking Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province, with Islamabad in Pakistan.

Trains transport goods from Lanzhou to Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and they are then transported to Islamabad by the highway. The 4,500-kilometer trip takes 13 days, about 15 days less than the traditional maritime route.

China and Pakistan also launched a direct rail and sea freight service between Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, and Karachi in 2016. Each trip can transport up to 500 metric tons of consumer goods and commodities.

Pakistan remains China's biggest destination for outbound direct investment in South Asia.

Experts said Pakistan has become a destination with growing attraction for Chinese companies because of the opportunities it offers as a convenient marketplace to the Middle East and Africa, as well as a developing platform for many countries and regions to boost the growth of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Ministry of Commerce said that Chinese companies such as Power Construction Corp of China and China Unicom had invested $5.71 billion in the neighbouring country by the end of 2017, mainly in energy and infrastructure development, telecommunication, manufacturing, and financial services.

China will firmly promote industrial cooperation, expand its direct investment in Pakistan, and encourage Chinese companies to actively participate in the development of special economic zones, said Wang Dongtang, deputy director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade at the Ministry of Commerce.

"The focus of the cooperation will be to upgrade Pakistan's manufacturing capacity and expand its export-oriented industries," he said.

Zhu Feng, dean of the Institute of International Relations of Nanjing University, said Pakistan has been an enthusiastic supporter of the initiative since its initial participation.

The country aims to act as a regional trading hub between partner countries and regions committed to the initiative. For Pakistani companies, the initiative also offers a lucrative economic opportunity.

"Moreover, the initiative will expand export markets for Pakistani companies and offer opportunities to bid on construction projects in many parts of global markets," said Sang Baichuan, a professor of international trade at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.