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Pakistan's largest multinational bank opens branch in Beijing

By Chen Jia | | Updated: 2021-03-23 15:03
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The Habib Bank Limited (HBL) logo is seen on the head office building in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 18, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

The Habib Bank Ltd (HBL), the largest multinational bank in Pakistan, opened its branch in Beijing on March 5 and held an opening ceremony on Monday, which aims to better serve Chinese clients participating in the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Belt and Road Initiative, according to the bank's executives.

It makes HBL the first Pakistani bank to open a branch and offer financial services in Beijing. The Beijing branch has received the business license from China's financial regulators to start RMB-denominated trade settlement services. It has also been approved to do business in foreign currencies, the bank said.

As of today, the amount of RMB-denominated trade settlements by HBL accounts for more than 11 percent of the total, up from 3 percent in 2018. And the expansion of the bank's business in China will help to facilitate the RMB usage in China-Pakistan bilateral trade and investment, as well as promote the RMB internationalization, according to Sultan Ali Allana, chairman of HBL.

"China is the key to HBL's internationalization strategy. We aim to provide convenient services for Chinese clients, through our Chinese branches and the global network which covers Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and, of course, Pakistan," said the chairman.

Financial services that the Beijing branch is ready to offer will include spot foreign exchanges and business in the interbank money market which allows for financial institutions to borrow and lend money at interbank rates.

As the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor enters an important stage, from traditional infrastructure construction to high-quality development, focusing on cooperation in industrial development, agriculture and people's livelihoods, it requires higher standards of support from financial institutions, said Xie Guoxiang, commercial counsellor of the Chinese embassy in Pakistan.

Cheng Wei, HBL Beijing branch manager and country manager, told China Daily that the bank has joined the second phase of the CPEC construction projects. As planned by the two countries, the second phase will focus more on projects of industrial parks, agriculture, education, people's livelihoods and some fields of the "new economy".

HBL set up its first China branch in Urumqi, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, in 2017. The bank was the first commercial bank established in Pakistan in 1947. It is currently the largest multinational bank in Pakistan with a global presence in more than 15 countries.

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