Dawn | 16 Apr 2008
New free trade accord with China soon: Musharraf
URUMQI, April 15: President Pervez Musharraf said on Tuesday that Pakistan and China were close to signing another Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on trade and services that would further boost their economic and commercial ties.
Addressing the China Xinjiang-Pakistan Economic Forum in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang autonomous region, he urged closer cooperation in trade and commerce and investment.
The president informed the business leaders that there was immense scope for investment in Pakistan in the energy sector, particularly in coal-powered and solar and hydro-electric plants.
He said Pakistan and China were also discussing proposals to set up more nuclear power plants to help meet the requirements of fast expanding economy.
He said Pakistan had proposed an integrated border management regime and transit trade agreement.
The president said that in view of close ties between the two countries, special investment zones would be created in Pakistan for Chinese entrepreneurs.
Inviting Bank of China to enter Pakistani banking scene to help business communities of the two countries, he said several foreign banks were operating in the country.
He said Xinjiang could vastly benefit from its proximity to Pakistan.
He said Pakistan and China had already embarked on a plan to upgrade the Karakoram Highway for allowing all types of heavy traffic. This would be besides a rail link connecting Pakistan Railways with China Rail.
“We can even have fibre optic link and oil and gas pipeline along the same route that will bring the two countries closer,” the president said.
Xinjiang Governor Nur Bakari and Vice-Governor Masood Qureshi and members of the Pakistani delegation attended the meeting.
Meanwhile, according to a joint statement issued simultaneously from Beijing and Islamabad at the end of President Musharraf’s six-day state visit, China has expressed its readiness to assist Pakistan for the development of energy, mineral and mining sectors, extend cooperation in financial sector and upgrade communication and transportation links.
“Both sides agreed to further strengthen defence cooperation and enhance collaboration between their respective defence industries,” the statement said.
“China expressed its full support for Pakistan’s efforts to preserve its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s important role in promoting peace, stability and security and its contribution to counter terrorism.”
Pakistan reiterated its full support to the ‘One China’ policy and the return of Taiwan to the motherland. It also condemned and rejected the “three evil forces i.e. secessionism, separatism and terrorism”.
During the visit, President Musharraf held official talks with President Hu Jintao in Sanya, met NPC Standing Committee Chairman Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao and CPPCC Chairman Jia Qinglin in Beijing as well as the leadership of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in Urumqi.
The president was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr Atta ur Rehman, Chairman Trade Development Authority Tariq Ikram and Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr Akram Sheikh.
The two countries signed 10 memoranda of understanding on water, cooperation in engineering and technological sciences, finance, research and exchange of TV news.
They also agreed to set up Pakistan Culture and Communication Center at Tsinghua University, and promote economic and trade cooperation between the Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Bureau of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and Ministry of Commerce of Pakistan.
The countries also decided to encourage international investment and establish relations of friendship and good neighbourly cooperation between Xinjiang and the NWFP.-APP