Let’s take Sino-Pak trade to $15b: PM

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Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Sunday that Pakistan and China had the potential to further enhance their trade ties and called for joint efforts to increase bilateral trade to $15 billion in the next three to four years.
He was talking to China’s Executive Vice Premier Li Keqiang, as the two leaders met here on the sidelines of Boao Forum for Asia at the State Guest House, said a statement issued by the PM’s office in Islamabad.
Gilani said Pakistan-China friendship was based on mutual trust and respect, and remained a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. He said Pakistan was committed to fighting terrorism in all its forms, adding that strategic and defence cooperation was an important component of Sino-Pak partnership.
The prime minister said that Pakistan greatly values China’s economic support and assistance, and wishes to promote closer collaboration in agriculture, irrigation, energy, infrastructure development, railways and security sectors. He expressed satisfaction over the establishment of Pak-China Joint Energy Working Group, which was an encouraging landmark in the economic relations of the two countries. He said that Pakistan looked forward to Chinese cooperation in the full gamut of energy, including hydro, coal, thermal, alternative and civil nuclear energy. He mentioned the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the Government of Pakistan and China’s EXIM Bank in 2009 for $700 million credit line for the construction of small and medium dams in Pakistan. He stressed for the early materialisation of this arrangement to alleviate poverty and help Pakistani farmers. Gilani called for establishing an umbrella corporation under the energy cooperation mechanism known as “Pak-China Power Cooperation”, which would include specialists and entities from all fields – conventional and alternative.
He said that with joint efforts, Pak-China bilateral trade increased by 22 percent last year to $ 10.6 billion. He said his government derived satisfaction as the Pakistani exports to China had doubled from $1 billion in 2008 to $2.1 billion in 2011.
The prime minister welcomed the support of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China for infrastructure projects as well as Chinese investment in banking sector.
He also appreciated Chinese assistance in the wake of massive floods in Pakistan in recent years.
The Chinese vice premier said his country wanted to further enhance the existing friendly relations with Pakistan in diverse fields. He hoped that the ties, spanning over six decades, would be further strengthened at the levels of both governments and the two nations. Separately in an interview to China Radio International, the prime minister said the Asian countries should use platforms like Boao Forum for in-depth cooperation. He said despite difficult economic conditions, the performance of the Asian countries was impressive. Gilani added that US drone attacks were violating the sovereignty of Pakistan and had created a negative impact. During Boao conference, Italy also assured Pakistan of its support to get the status of Generalized System of Preferences (GSP Plus) in the European Union.
ITALY: Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart hoped that the GSP Plus would have substantial positive effect on Pakistan’s economy.
The two leaders met here on the sidelines of Boao Forum for Asia and discussed wide range of issues of mutual interest, including the GSP Plus – the European Union’s generalized system of preferences that provides developing countries preferential access to the EU markets through reduced tariffs.
Gilani mentioned the significant efforts of Pak-Italy Joint Business Commission in enhancing bilateral trade and stressed holding of its regular meetings.
IRAN: The prime minister also expressed Pakistan’s strong desire for boosting bilateral relations with Iran, especially in energy and trade. “Realisation of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project will open new vistas of cooperation,” Gilani said while talking to Iranian Vice President, Mohammad Javad Mohammadizadeh, as the two leaders met on the sidelines of Boao Forum for Asia. He said the 1,000 MW electricity being supplied from Iran to Balochistan would prove helpful in overcoming the energy shortage.
KAZAKHSTAN: Gilani also offered Kazakhstan – the world’s largest landlocked country – to benefit from Pakistan’s shortest route to seaports.
In a meeting with his Kazakh counterpart Karim Massimov on the sidelines of Boao Forum for Asia here, the prime minister said Pakistan provides an easy access for the Central Asian states to access the sea for the transportation of goods. Gilani said Pakistan wants to maintain strong trade and communication links with the energy-rich Kazakhstan. He mentioned the Quadrilateral Agreement for Traffic in Transit (between Pakistan, China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) that facilitates direct land route between the two countries.

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