President Mamnoon Hussain on Tuesday said China had emerged as a major investor and partner for Pakistan with great prospects of materializing the possibilities of development in both countries. Addressing at the inauguration ceremony of launch of Bank of China’s operations in Pakistan, the President said it would become a source of taking this historic friendship to new heights by strengthening the already existing deep relations between the two “iron brothers”. The President said the launch of Bank of China was a memorable event in the everlasting friendship between Pakistan and China which was also a manifestation of this historical fact that the shared dream of two countries would soon be realized. He said in the context of business environment in Pakistan, the opening of Bank of China indicated that the benefits of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would soon start reaching the masses. He expressed confidence that the sincere relationship between the two countries would further grow in the coming days and the start of operations by Bank of China in Pakistan would further speed up the pace of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. The President said the hard work of past several years had created an excellent business environment in Pakistan and the situation was favorable for domestic and foreign investment, while the country’s strong and huge consumer market was further increasing the effectiveness of these factors. He said Pakistan was a natural hub for regional trade activities due to its location at the crossroads of Central Asia, West Asia and Middle East, while CPEC had further increased its importance. He said several investment opportunities were emerging in the country paving the way for further stabilizing the economy. President Mamnoon said it was a matter of satisfaction that in recent years the progress in various fields of life especially on the economic front had generated many new business opportunities in the country. He said with the initiation of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and the infrastructure sector in Pakistan was witnessing splendid growth with projects including dams, civil power reactors, coal mining, textile parks, road and railway lines and oil and gas pipelines. The President said due to sound economic policies of the government, the investment environment in the country had become very favorable. He said attractive opportunities in the country’s banking field could play positive role in providing the required resources for promoting commercial activities and developing infrastructure. President Mamnoon expressed confidence that this would lead to further improvement in national growth rate and would also enable the banking industry effectively assist in making business environment more conducive. He assured Bank of China of continued support of the government and State Bank of Pakistan in expanding its operations in Pakistan. Chairman Bank of China Chen Siqing said it was a great honour for Bank of China for launching its operations in Pakistan, adding that Karachi branch was the first in South Asia. He said the Bank of China would strengthen the brotherly relations between the two countries in the realms of financial sector as well. He said China’s progressive and fast-paced economy was ready to enter into an era of high-grade standards and emphasized that Bank of China could help Pakistan effectively reap the benefits of China’s economic prosperity. Governor State Bank of Pakistan Tariq Bajwa welcomed the launch of BOC in Pakistan and said increased diversity of foreign banks would increase the country’s economic resilience. He said future prospects of Pakistan and China’s economic sector was bright and mentioned that as CPEC continues to mature with setting up of Special Economic Zones, the significance of opening of Bank of China would increase. He said Pakistan could learn from the expertise of Bank of China in Small and Medium Enterprises sector. Acting Ambassador of China to Pakistan, Zhao Lijian said Pakistan’s economy was picking up quickly and the opening of Bank of China marked the confidence of Chinese corporate sector in Pakistan’s economic situation. Dr. Li Tao, Chief Executive Officer, Bank of China, Pakistan Chapter and other Chinese and Pakistani banking experts were present.