PM Shehbaz Guarantees Chinese Investors of Facilities, Security

PM Shehbaz Guarantees Chinese Investors of Facilities, Security — Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday assured Chinese investors of comprehensive facilitation and robust security for their projects and investments in Pakistan.

Emphasizing the significance of mutually rewarding business-to-business (B2B) cooperation, Shehbaz highlighted its potential to foster a prosperous future for both nations.

Addressing the Pakistan-China Business Forum during his five-day visit to China, the Prime Minister underscored the extensive trade and investment opportunities in sectors such as technology transfer, industry, IT, agriculture, mining, steel, textiles, and renewable energy. He repeatedly praised China’s development model, expressing a strong commitment to replicating it in Pakistan.

“I will return to Pakistan with a firm resolve to emulate this model of economic transformation. By God, I believe that although it is challenging, it is not impossible if we are sincere to our purpose and people,” Shehbaz asserted to an audience of hundreds of business leaders from both countries.

Encouraging Pakistani businessmen to engage with their Chinese counterparts, Shehbaz urged them to explore ways to relocate Chinese textile industries to Pakistan and form joint ventures in steel and other sectors. “This is the opportunity, time, and moment to capture. Sit down with your Chinese friends for serious discussions. As the Chief Executive of Pakistan, I assure you of my fullest support so that both Pakistani and Chinese businessmen can benefit jointly,” he remarked.

Shehbaz highlighted Pakistan’s immense mineral deposits, estimated at around $10 trillion, and the potential to convert these resources into finished and semi-finished goods for export. He assured Chinese investors that his government had initiated structural reforms to combat corruption and improve the business environment.

Drawing a comparison between the $500 billion GDP of Shenzhen, a city with a population of 13 million, and Pakistan’s $380 billion GDP with a population of 250 million, Shehbaz described Shenzhen’s rapid transformation as a “miracle of this century” and the “eighth wonder of the world.” He called for learning from China’s swift economic progress and striving to regain Pakistan’s former economic stature.

Prime Minister Shehbaz lauded President Xi Jinping’s visionary leadership, which has propelled China to become the world’s second-largest economy and military power, lifting 700 million people out of poverty in the process. He also acknowledged the significant benefits Pakistan has reaped from the Belt and Road Initiative, particularly through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Referring to a recent terrorist attack on Chinese workers in Besham, Shehbaz expressed deep condolences and described it as one of the saddest days of his life. He assured the Chinese side of stringent measures to ensure the safety of their workers. “I will spare no effort to protect the lives of Chinese workers and guarantee their security more than that of our own children. This will never happen again,” he pledged.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar, addressing the Forum, reminisced about Pakistan’s past economic performance as the world’s 24th largest economy. He attributed setbacks to frequent government changes and political instability but emphasized Prime Minister Shehbaz’s clear roadmap for export-led growth and industrialization aimed at reducing the fiscal deficit.

Dar highlighted Pakistan’s competitive labor costs and the formation of the Special Investment Facilitation Council under the Prime Minister’s leadership to streamline investment processes. He urged Chinese businessmen to consider B2B joint ventures and participate in the privatization of around 84 state-owned enterprises. “This is the high time you considered B2B joint ventures. The outline is clear. We are going for a deep structural economic transformation. We are working on a fast track to reach the target of joining G20. You will see, the government will be exiting from business,” he remarked.

Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb, speaking on the country’s economic outlook, noted positive trends across various indicators. “The agriculture GDP growth during this fiscal year of 6.25% is a real bright spot,” he said. Aurangzeb also mentioned improvements in remittances and exports, driven by both traditional sectors like textiles and new growth in agriculture and IT. He highlighted that Pakistan’s current account deficit was projected to be less than a billion dollars this fiscal year and that discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a longer and larger program were ongoing to ensure macroeconomic stability and structural reforms.

In his opening remarks, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Beijing, Khalil Hashmi, expressed optimism that the Forum would pave new pathways for economic and trade cooperation. He noted the significance of holding the Forum in Shenzhen, a city renowned for its rapid growth, innovation culture, and global reputation for “Shenzhen Speed.” Hashmi emphasized that the conference, attended by around 500 business leaders from Pakistan and China, provided an excellent opportunity for networking and forging mutually beneficial ventures.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s assurances to Chinese investors signal Pakistan’s commitment to fostering a conducive environment for international investment. With ambitious plans to emulate China’s development model and substantial efforts to ensure security and combat corruption, Pakistan aims to strengthen its economic ties with China and achieve significant economic transformation.