China, Pakistan pledge economic partnership

Updated: 2011-05-20 14:01
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BEIJING -- China and Pakistan have pledged to infuse new dynamics into their partnership by enhancing cooperation among entrepreneurs of the two countries.

"As close neighbors, it is our sincere desire to continue to work toward closer economic integration between Pakistan and China," Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said at the China-Pakistan Entrepreneurs Forum held Thursday in Beijing.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations and has been named China-Pakistan Friendship Year.

While the China-Pakistan all-weather friendship has "beat the test of time," Gilani said, the corporate sectors of the two countries should work together to inject new dynamics into their partnership and lead the process to take the friendship to new heights.

"Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Pakistan in December 2010 was a landmark in the long and glorious history of the Pakistan-China friendship," Gilani said.

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During Wen's visit to Pakistan, both leaders agreed that the corporate sector should play a leading role in the economic partnership of the two countries, and the two governments must provide facility for the flourishing of the mutually beneficial economic partnership, Gilani added.

Pakistan and China have benefited substantially from trade, finance and technological cooperation, which have become important drivers in the development of the friendship and a multi-dimensional cooperative partnership, Gilani said.

Bilateral trade is expected to hit $15 billion in the coming years, according to Gilani.

In finance and banking, the two countries established the Pakistan-China Joint Investment Company, while the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is beginning operations in Pakistan and has opened branches in Islamabad and Karachi, Gilani said.

He believes there's great potential for Chinese enterprises to invest in Pakistan through joint ventures with Chinese corporations and financial institutions.

By the end of 2010, Chinese enterprises had signed contracts with Pakistan worth a total of $19.87 billion. China's direct investment in Pakistan hit $1.36 billion, while Pakistan's investment in China reached $57.38 million, according to the Chinese Commerce Ministry.

For his part, Wan Gang, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and science and technology minister, said Pakistan is China's most important trade partner in South Asia.

"In the past 10 years, bilateral trade has been growing at an annual speed of 20 percent," Wan said.

Bilateral trade reached $8.6 billion in 2010, up 27.7 percent from previous year, according to Chinese Customs.

The two countries signed a free trade agreement in 2006, which was a milestone in their economic and trade relations, Wan said.

In the future, China and Pakistan will enhance cooperation in energy, infrastructure, telecommunications and agriculture, Wan added.

"I hope, with joint efforts between the entrepreneurs of the two countries, bilateral relations will enter a new phase through all forms of economic cooperation, including trade and investment," Wan said.

At the forum, China Huadian Corporation and China TBEA also signed cooperation agreements with Pakistan's Ruba Group.

The forum, co-hosted by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the Pakistani Embassy in China, gathered more than 200 entrepreneurs from China and Pakistan.