It gives me great pleasure to extend to the Government and the people of China the most cordial greetings on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Pakistan-China diplomatic relations. China has proved to be our unwavering and reliable friend, partner, and neighbor throughout these seventy long years.
Despite our differences in size, economy, and society, we share a deep bond that has transcended the passage of time and changing leadership in both countries. We are proud of this friendship. Our relationship is a role model for countries all over the world.
I am pleased to state that in recent years the bilateral trade and investment relations have gone from strength to strength. China has become Pakistan’s largest trading partner, the largest source of imports, and the second-largest destination for Pakistan’s exports. China has also become the largest source of foreign direct investment into Pakistan.
The China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA) and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) provide sound and credible institutional foundations for an even stronger commercial and economic engagement between the two countries. Both the CPFTA and CPEC have entered their Second Phases.
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The scope of CPFTA has been greatly enlarged to cover 75% of the tariff lines of each country. We expect that the enhanced duty-free market access accorded by the CPFTA to the exporters from both countries will diversify and significantly drive up bilateral trade in a way that is mutually advantageous.
In addition to goods, trade in services between the two countries has an enormous potential to grow. Services is a booming sector of the economy in both Pakistan and China. Our two countries can pool their resources in different sub-sectors, such as Information & Communication Technology and banking, etc., for a win-win outcome.
The Second Phase of CPEC, which focuses on industrial and agricultural cooperation, will complement the potential unleashed by CPFTA. Pakistan’s labor and natural resources and a liberal investment regime combined with Chinese capital and technology would usher in a mutually advantageous outcome.
The FDI from China has witnessed a consistent increase in the pre-Covid period (2017-19). Once the situation of Covid normalizes, we are looking forward to receiving more FDI from China in agriculture and manufacturing, particularly in export-oriented sectors.
This will go a long way to rejuvenate Pakistan’s economy and cementing bilateral economic relations. While building upon this strong foundation, it is our responsibility to pass the legendary narrative of our friendship to successive generations.