Minister commends Chinese govt for hosting joint economic committee session
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan commended the government of China for hosting the 15th session of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) on economic, trade, scientific and technical cooperation after a gap of 11 years.
The virtual meeting of the JEC was co-chaired by Ren Hongbin, vice minister of China and Mian Asad Hayaud Din, secretary of the Economic Affairs Division of Pakistan.
Omar Ayub Khan expressed his satisfaction on the completion of 70 years of everlasting and unprecedented bilateral friendship between Pakistan and China.
To highlight the significance of the event, the minister referred to the bilateral agreement for establishment of the Joint Committee on economic, trade, scientific and technical cooperation, signed in 1982, and called it the basis of bilateral cooperation.
He said Pakistan and China had always supported each other at every front. Pakistan was among the first few countries to show its solidarity with China at the time of outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and Pakistan’s president paid a visit to Beijing, amid the pandemic.
Similarly, the government of China has also been supporting Pakistan in the pandemic mitigation measures from the very beginning. To support the government of Pakistan’s drive for mass vaccination, the Chinese companies supplied the Covid-19 vaccine on a priority basis. The government of China also provided over four million doses of vaccine to Pakistan free-of-charge.
The minister highlighted that Pakistan and China are entering into the next phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), where Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are being established.
The SEZs would be helpful in attracting foreign direct investment, establishing industrial units, creating employment opportunities and boosting economic activities in the country.
Similarly, operationalisation of the Gwadar Port will also create momentum in the external trade, he said, adding that China has been Pakistan’s largest trading partner for six consecutive years since 2015.
At present, China is Pakistan’s main source of imports and second-largest export destination.
Omar Ayub Khan also highlighted that Pakistan has immense investment opportunities in various sectors. The country provides conducive and liberal investment environment to foreign investors and entrepreneurs.
All foreign investments are fully protected under the Foreign Private Investment Promotion and Protection Act, 1976 and the Protection of Economic Reforms Act, 1992.
Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are also being established to meet the global challenges of competitiveness with the state-of-the-art infrastructure and connectivity. The SEZ incentive package includes exemption from the income tax for 10-years and one-time exemption from all Customs duties and taxes on the import of capital goods. Textile, leather, pharmaceutical and surgical industries of Pakistan are considered as the best in the world and the products are exported around the globe.
Accordingly, Chinese investors can benefit from the huge potential of Pakistan’s industrial sector, the minister said, adding, in this regard, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (Smeda) and the Board of Investment can collaborate with their Chinese counterparts for enhancing cooperation in the industrial sector.
Further, agriculture is another very important sector of the economy, especially for food security and rural development.
He emphasised: “We are looking forward for mutual cooperation in the areas of agricultural research, enhanced productivity, value addition and food processing through the establishment of joint ventures and business-to-business contacts.”
Both sides also discussed the matters relating to development projects in the energy, infrastructure and social sectors.
They also agreed to promote investment and industrial cooperation on a fast-track basis.
Mian Asad Hayaud Din, secretary of the Economic Affairs Division, also shared views regarding promotion of bilateral trade cooperation, exchange of experience in the context of poverty alleviation and establishment of joint working groups.
The secretary appreciated the measures taken by the Chinese government to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, strengthening of cooperation under multilateral framework was also discussed.
In his concluding remarks, Ren Hongbin, vice minister of China, said that the fruitful discussions on bilateral economic relations between the delegates of the two countries will meet the objectives of deepening bilateral relationship between the two countries.
He also expressed the hope that the next session of Pak-China JEC will be held in Pakistan soon and reiterated that Pakistan-China relationship is everlasting and bound to continue on good terms in the future.
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