Pakistan, China need to take full advantage of FTA: conference told

JAMSHORO: The scholars and educationists of Pakistan & China have termed the China-Pakistan friendship as exemplary and said that the relations of both countries will reap the windfalls of their all-weather strategic cooperative partnership as Beijing and Islamabad are on the verge of capitalizing on massive opportunities of development to realize common dreams of the two Asian nations.

This was stated by the Chinese & Pakistani scholars at a two-day international conference titled “Pak-China strategic partnership & its regional implications” organized by Sindh University’s Area Study Centre in Senate Hall of the Ghulam Mustafa Shah Administration Building here on Monday.

The speakers said that both Beijing and Islamabad had stepped up efforts for economic development in Pakistan by launching a number of bilateral projects including Economic Corridor and energy sector.

While giving her presidential remarks, the Vice Chancellor of Sindh University Dr Abida Taherani, said that that the recent visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Pakistan with a cooperation deal worth US$46 billion, focusing on a broad spectrum of cooperation addressing the core issues like energy, transport and infrastructural developments would have a greater degree of impact on the lives of people on both sides.

“More than 30 out of 51 MoUs were signed on the occasion of President Xi visit related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which reflects the significance of this Mega Project that promises to us with new vistas of prosperity for the masses not only for on both sides of the border but particularly in hitherto vast under developed areas of Baluchistan and Sindh,” she said.

She said that the relationship of the two countries was not limited to the economic cooperation, but a time-tested relationship based on mutual trust, respect, regional cooperation, and assistance. “Both leaders rightly proclaimed the Pak-China relations are a deep-rooted tree. Pakistan-China relationships are the corner stone of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy, both committed to regional security and peace”, said Dr. Taherani.

She said that the relations of both countries had evolved from being strong strategic cooperation towards strategic partnership and bilateral commitment of cooperation in the fields of civil nuclear energy under IAEA safeguards by Pakistan’s engagement with Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) and its firm commitments and efforts en route into the global non-proliferation regime.

“The leadership both in China and Pakistan is committed to expand Pakistan-China relations at bilateral and multilateral levels by forging China-Pakistan community of shared destiny. Today, both countries have common interests in promoting regional peace and stability in the region by eradicating terrorism, working together for peace in Afghanistan, improving relations with India and enhancing regional connectivity”, she said.

Dr. Taherani said that the socio-economic development of people of both countries was the common goal in developing China-Pakistan Community of Shared Destiny. “Economy and Security are two important components of Pakistan-China strategic relations. Today, Pakistan has been facing multifarious traditional and non-traditional security challenges. Some of major challenges include the terrorism, economic slowdown and energy crisis”, she maintained.

Dr. Taherani said that rising China had the potential to help Pakistan through trade and investment adding that China’s economy was full of vitality and was going to become the world’s largest economy in the coming decade. “The trade volume between China and Pakistan reached to US $15 billion in 2015 and both the countries have agreed to elevate trade volume up to US $ 20 billion within next three years. China is on the top of the list of countries having Foreign Direct Investment in Pakistan”, said Vice Chancellor Dr. Abida Taherani adding that China’s Foreign Investment inflow during July 2013 to June 2014 was US $ 695.8 million.

China’s Zhejiang Normal University Vice Chancellor Dr. Lou Shizhou talked on the trade opportunities in Chinese city’s Yiwa market and the building of Silk Road. He said, “While the trade and energy corridor may be ‘monumental’ for Pakistan, for China it is part of more ambitious plans to beef up the country’s global economic muscle.

He describes the corridor as the “flagship project” of a broader policy – “One Belt, One Road” – which seeks to physically connect China to its markets in Asia, Europe and beyond.

This initiative includes the New Silk Road which will link China with Europe through Central Asia and the Maritime Silk Road to ensure a safe passage of China’s shipping through the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

“This initiative can bring greater cohesion in South Asia, one of the world’s least economically integrated regions”, he said.

The Vice Chancellor opined that both the countries should make full use of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and hold the second round of tax reduction negotiations on the second phase of the FTA. “We should deepen cooperation in the fields of defence, maritime, agriculture, and law enforcement,” he added.

Regarding China’s support for Pakistan in capacity-building of independent development, he declared that China would keep on encouraging Chinese enterprises to invest in Pakistan to promote the economic and social construction of Pakistan.

Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Dr. Noman Sattar, Chinese scholar Zhu Lingjia, Fazal-ur-Rehman, Dr. Hamadullah Kakepoto and others also spoke on the occasion.

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