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Boosted trade would deepen friendship

2013-05-23 08:56 China Daily     Web Editor: Sun Tian comment

Economic and trade cooperation between China and Pakistan should be boosted in the coming years thanks to their strong political and military ties, experts say.

"Compared with political ties, bilateral trade cooperation between China and Pakistan is still weak and the two countries should further encourage their economic and trade cooperation and communication, based on bilateral strategic mutual trust," said Mei Xinyu, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation at the Ministry of Commerce.

China is Pakistan's second-largest trading partner, the second-biggest source of imports and the fourth-largest exports destination.

"The Pakistani side expects two-way trade to surpass $15 billion in two or three years," Xinhua News Agency quoted Pakistan's Ambassador to China Masood Khalid as saying.

The FTA between China and Pakistan, which was signed in 2006, has fostered China's economic cooperation with the whole South Asian region. Meanwhile, the two countries have cooperated in infrastructure construction over the past few years.

"More Chinese goods could be exported to the Middle East market through Pakistan, taking advantage of the bilateral FTA," Mei said, adding that apart from foreign trade, China and Pakistan also have promising prospects for cooperation in the infrastructure sector.

China State Construction Engineering Corp signed a $236 million contract with Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority in March to construct Islamabad's international airport.

Occupying 165,400 square meters, the airport will be capable of delivering 9 million passengers annually once its construction is complete.

Furthermore, China Overseas Holding Ltd, a subsidiary of CSCES, received operational control of Pakistan's important Gwadar deep-water port from Singapore's PSA International earlier this year.

With an investment of $248 million and built by China Harbor Engineering Co, Gwadar is close to the Pakistan-Iran border and the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the Gulf region's oil exports are delivered by ship to other overseas markets.

To meet demands of economic development, Pakistan has strengthened its support of infrastructure construction. From 2010 to 2020, Pakistan will expand construction of its road network. Total investment on the highway road construction in Pakistan is expected to exceed $4 billion.

"China and Pakistan will embrace tremendous opportunities on their infrastructure cooperation, thanks to the country's stimulus policy," Mei said.

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