Shahbaz leading a high-profile delegation to China from 24th

Salim Ahmed

Lahore—Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif is proceeding to China on a six-day visit, leading a high-profile delegation in a bid to explore more avenues of mutual cooperation with China in different sectors.
The delegation will comprise businessmen and senior officials which will hold meetings with their Chinese counterparts to explore cooperation between China and the Punjab government.
The delegation would also attend a Business Moot in a Chinese province. It is expected that MoUs would also be signed and would explore opportunities in trade and investment, energy, infrastructure, textiles, agriculture, renewable energy, privatisation, engineering, information and Communication technologies and mining sectors. The delegation would return on July 29.
This year Pakistan-China Business Friendship Conference was organised by the Ministry of Commerce in collaboration with the Board of Investment (BoI) and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) in which a 100-member Chinese delegation participated.
The first leg of the conference was held in Islamabad on 18th and 19th January from where the delegates travelled to Lahore for a day where business-to-business (B2B) sessions with prominent CEOs and senior executives of top companies headquartered in Punjab were held.
At the last leg of the visit, the delegation proceeded to Karachi, where Pakistan Business Council (PBC), with support of Government of Sindh and TDAP, hosted an event, where B2B sessions with premier Karachi based businesses were held on 21st and 22nd January 2016.
As per statistics, China is Pakistan’s major trading partner with volume of trade reaching an all-time high of $12.299 billion in 2014-15. The two countries signed the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA) on 24th November 2006, which became operational from 1st July 2007.
Later, a Free Trade Agreement on trade in services was also signed on 21 February 2009 and is operational since 10th October 2009. Prior to signing of CPFTA the volume of trade between the two countries was in vicinity of $4 billion out of exports from Pakistan were $575 million.
Over the years the trade volume has leapfrogged to $12 billion with Pakistan exports bourgeoning to $2.1 billion in 2014-15, a more than three and a half times increase.
The Lahore Orange Line Metro Train project is a splendid gift of China for people of Pakistan and hundred per cent investment in this project has been made by China.
It may also be recalled that the Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif and Shandong Vice Governor Xia Geng this year signed the agreements.
Under the framework agreement, Shandong province will cooperate in setting up an industrial park in Punjab. Under the agreements, cooperation will be enhanced in agriculture, livestock and dairy, energy, mining, infrastructure, health, education, information technology, manufacturing, economic and industrial zone development, trade of goods and services, tourism, banking and financial sectors.
Private sector will also be encouraged to increase investment and expanding trade relations. Besides, trade seminars will be held and trade delegations will be exchanged.

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