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HONG KONG: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said on Wednesday, Pakistan was emerging as a rising and secure country, on the track of sustainable growth due to its liberal investment policies.

"Today I present to you a rising, confident and secure Pakistan - a country full of vigour to make its mark in the world," the Prime Minister told Hong Kong's top businessmen and corporate leaders at the Pakistan Investment Forum.

The event themed `One Belt, One road' was organized by China Innovative Finance Group Limited and Consulate General of Pakistan.

The Prime Minister invited businessmen of Hong Kong to invest in Pakistan and take advantage of its strategic location, rich human and material resources, political stability and attractive investment policy.

He said despite numerous challenges, Pakistan was becoming an emerging economy and a destination that no global player could afford to miss.

He said Pakistan with its sixth largest population in the world, 80 million middle class and attractive investment environment was a destination for investors.

He said there was no minimum requirement for the amount of foreign equity and the investors could repatriate 100 percent profits and dividends.

The Prime Minister said the consumer market in Pakistan was growing at a very fast pace, adding the consumer demand for automobiles, housing and electronics was thriving and providing considerable returns to the corporate sector.

He mentioned that the services industries particularly telecommunication, hospitality and online-retail were fast growing into attractive areas for investment.

The Prime Minister said from a 3 percent GDP growth before 2013, the country was projected to achieve 5.5 percent GDP growth this year, and 7 percent in two years.

He said Pakistan's Vision 2025 served as a comprehensive strategy for achieving sustainable growth and mapped the country to join the top 25 economies in the world leading to Upper Middle Income country status by 2025.

The Prime Minister said China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a key regional initiative for connectivity and shared prosperity of nations.

He said CPEC was a core component of One Belt, One Road initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping designed for regional integration for peace and development.

He said Pakistan strongly favours synergizing energies in the region to support this project and emphasized for not indulging in negative publicity for the betterment of common man.

Nawaz Sharif said his vision was to empower the people through economic development.

He said CPEC had the potential of bringing improvement in the lives of people, in addition to its projects related to energy, road and rail infrastructure, industrial parks and economic zones.

He said the Corridor would connect the port of Gwadar to Kashghar and would also link the resource-rich Central Asia, oil-rich Gulf states and Europe.

The Prime Minister said when the government took over in 2013, it faced severe challenges including energy shortages, inflationary pressures, exchange rate volatility and a precarious security environment. However, he said with efficient planning, the government managed to stabilize the economy despite unfavourable global economic conditions.

He said that the government introduced good governance and financial discipline, entrepreneurship reforms, provided a level-playing fields and widened social safety net, which resulted in reinforcement of foreign exchange reserves.

He said the Karachi Stock Exchange index tripled in less than four years and mentioned that international monetary institutions were improving ranking of Pakistan.

He said the government realized that focusing on growth was not enough and sustainable development was necessary, for which pro-poor steps in social security domain had been taken.

He said Hong Kong was among the major drivers of world economy and contributed for development of China, for which it could always be proud of.

In a detailed presentation, Chairman Board of Investment Miftah Ismali gave to the select gathering of businessmen and investors an overview of Pakistan's economy with exports grown to worth $22 billion, imports of $40 billion and remittances worth $21 billion.

He said the Foreign Exchange Reserves had touched $23 billion mark and stock exchanges surged to 53,000 points and GDP grown to 4.7 percent.

Ismail said Pakistan had a potential of 60,000 megawatts of hydel power, 340,000 MW of wind power, 184 million barrels of crude oil reserves, 26 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, untapped reserves of 9 billion barrel of shale oil, 105 trillion cubic feet of shale gas and coal reserves of 175 billion tons.

He apprised the audience that Pakistan stood second in the world with above 100 millions tons of salt reserves, third in copper with 1,352 million tons reserves, fifth in coal with 175,000 million tons reserves, and had fifth largest reserves of gold.

Besides, Pakistan was fourth largest producer of cotton, 8th in wheat, 11th in rice, 5th in milk, and 9th in meat production.

He said net foreign direct investment had increased to US$1.901 billion during 2016 registering 30 percent growth since 2013.

He said major inflows of foreign direct investment come from China, US, UAE, Hong Kong, UK and Italy and target for current year was $3.67 billion. Highlighting the reforms made by the government to facilitate the investors, the Chairman said all sectors were open for investment allowing 100 percent repatriation of investment, profits and dividends.

He said special visa facilitation had been ensured for Chinese investors, strong legal protection, and BIT, FTA and double taxation agreements with China had been signed.

A documentary highlighting the attractive features of Pakistan vis-a-vis trade and investment and socio-economic development was also played.

Chief Executive (Head of the government) of Hong Kong Leung Chun-Ying congratulated the Prime Minister for a very impressive speech at the Belt and Road Forum in China and expressed satisfaction that Pakistan's support to the initiative was meant for peace, development and prosperity.

He said Pakistani community was one of the largest ethnic community in Hong Kong and was contributing to strengthening the business and trade linkages.

He said President Xi, in his speech had said that OBOR was about peace and innovation spanning over three continents and added that it was a multifaceted initiative to promote, culture and people- to people contact.

He said Hong Kong's low taxation regime and a free judiciary was an attractive place for investment and emphasized that Pakistani businessmen to take the benefit.

He said the Hong Kong Region with a total population of 66 million offered much to look forward from Pakistanis and mentioned signing of an agreement on avoidance of double taxation between the two governments.

In his welcome address, Chairman Hong Kong Development Council Vincent HS Lo said Pakistan made a good initiative by launching road and infrastructure projects under CPEC.

He said Hong Kong had already been partnering with several companies in Pakistan in multiple projects of energy and roads. Chairman Shangdong High Speed limited Sun Liang also addressed the gathering.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2017

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