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ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has said that there is a need to enhance trade between Pakistan and China which currently stands at $27.8 billion.

The president made these remarks while talking to the outgoing Ambassador of China to Pakistan, Nong Rong, who called on him at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on Tuesday.

The President said that as many as 19 projects were completed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) while 28 were under construction. He added that 41 development projects were in the pipeline. He said that the CPEC was a transformational flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, which had the potential to act as the pivot of regional peace and connectivity.

“The expeditious completion of four broad clusters of cooperation Gwadar Port and its auxiliary features, energy projects, transport infrastructure and industrial cooperation including the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) will change trade, business and investment outlook of the country,” he said.

The President noted that the signing of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement in January 2020 had further liberalised the trade resulting in a significant expansion in trade volumes, adding that as per data for the first 11 months of 2021, bilateral trade reached a record high at US$27.8 billion registering an increase of 60 percent with the corresponding period of 2020.

Pakistan’s exports amounting to $3.6 billion also registered an increase of 68 percent year over year.

The President observed that with shifts underway on the world stage there was a need to further expedite the progress on CPEC so that the goods should start moving from South China to Gwadar port and upward in a regular manner. He said that the second phase of the CPEC should be pursued expeditiously to promote agriculture; innovation and IT sector; industrial cooperation; livelihood generation and poverty alleviation; automobiles, textiles and leather manufacturing; and shifting of Chinese industries to Pakistan wherever possible, he added.

The President expressed his satisfaction over the encompassing cooperation between the two countries in the fields of defence to socio-economic development and conveyed his deepest gratitude to the people of China and President Xi Jinping for extending generous financial support to Pakistan which helped the country to deal effectively with the financial situation faced by it and during global warming-induced super floods last year which proved helpful in alleviating the suffering of the flood affectees.

He said that the Chinese grant to the Presidency would be used to build a digital outreach platform to provide help to people under stress or facing mental health issues. He said that the First Lady during her upcoming visit to the United Kingdom would engage the psychologists and psychiatrists of the Pakistani diaspora in the UK to seek their active involvement to provide online counselling and advice to people facing mental health situations.

The President expressed the hope that the approaching year of the Rabbit would be monumental for Pakistan-China relations.

The President appreciated the outgoing ambassador for representing China with dignity and grace in the best traditions of Chinese diplomacy and wished him success in his future professional assignments.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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