SHAHBAZ SHARIF VISIT TO CHINA TERMED HISTORIC

PUNJAB GOVERNMENT TO ESTABLISH "PUNJAB-CHINA BUSINESS SUPPORT FUND"

KANWAL SALEEM 
Nov 24 - 30, 2008

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President and Punjab Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif accompanied by Provincial Ministers and members of National and Provincial assemblies as well as businessmen undertook an official visit to China (November 17 to 21) in a bid to strengthen Punjab Government's relations with the Chinese investors, entrepreneurs and industrialists.

This visit aimed at drawing the support of Chinese enterprises for investments to establish joint ventures with their Pakistani counterparts in areas of construction of housing schemes, infrastructure, power generation, public-private joint ventures in industrial sector, road network, bringing modern drip irrigation technology for the promotion of agriculture sector and excavating iron ore and coal deposits which are in abundance in the Punjab province, sources in the PML-N told PAGE.

According to them, Shahbaz Sharif held very successful meetings during his two-day stay in Beijing and signed Protocols and a number of Memorandum of Understandings before leaving on the second leg of his visit to Shanghai. A MoU on cooperation in generating hydel electricity was also signed with a Chinese company that would not only bring an investment of $ 200 million but also establish a power station on Tunsa Barrage with a generating capacity of 120 MW.

The PML-N sources claimed that this visit of Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif was a historic one, as strong foundation has been laid for bringing Chinese investment in the Punjab province which will open a new chapter of development and progress in the Punjab province.

PUNJAB-CHINA BUSINESS SUPPORT FUND

To facilitate the investors and reduce their set up cost, Punjab Government has decided to establish "Punjab-China Business Support Fund" and an amount of US$ 1.25 million has already been allocated for the Fund. The objective behind setting up Support Fund is to strengthen Punjab Government's relationship with the Chinese investors, entrepreneurs and industrialists. The Fund could be used to provide support to Chinese Companies prospecting Punjab's market in jointly financing the feasibility studies and business plans and act as a vehicle for Punjab Government's participation in joint ventures and also equity participation with Chinese enterprises. The Fund can also be utilized in participation in a consortium of commercial banks interested in financing businesses.

During a meeting with President, China Development Bank, Mr. Chenyuan, Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif also briefed him about the salient features of the Support Fund, which was appreciated by him. Shahbaz Sharif said that his government will ensure to play a role of facilitator to create an enabling environment for its investment partners so that they could work in harmonious atmosphere for the promotion of industrialization in Punjab.

DRIP IRRIGATION TECHNOLOGY

Talking to a delegation led by Director General National Center of Efficient Irrigation Engineering and Technology Research, Xinjiang Mr. Huang Yaoxin at a breakfast meeting, Shahbaz Sharif said that his government was serious in introducing the innovative drip irrigation technology to bring large desert areas under cultivation. He said that he wants to bring a large portion of desert areas located in Cholistan and Bahawalpur under cultivation through introduction of drip irrigation. He enquired about the possibility of growing crops in these areas with the help of Drip Irrigation in Punjab on which the Director General of Technology Research replied that as far as his country is concerned the system proved very successful. He invited a company delegation to Punjab to explore the possibility of the implementation of the project on fast track. I want to encourage Chinese entrepreneurs because they have latest technology as well as cost effective methods", he observed. Mr. Huang informed the Chief Minister that the drip irrigation system is suitable for growing cotton, fruits, wheat and many other crops. He said that in Xinjiang over one million hector of land is being cultivated through this system.

Pakistan, he said, can also use this technology for growing cotton, mango, wheat, etc. "Give us a demonstration of your plant as soon as possible, so that further headway could be made in this regard," Shahbaz Sharif said. He also invited them to visit the desert areas of Punjab province to carry out survey in this regard. "We will find out on our side prominent business community to finance the joint venture in this field," Shahbaz Sharif assured. He further said that we must follow this project for the benefit of farming community and invited a delegation to Lahore for threadbare discussion on the project. Later, a MoU of cooperation was signed between the Punjab Government and the Research Institute in the presence of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

CSEC'S HELP FOR VARIOUS PROJECTS SOUGHT

During a meeting with President of China State Construction and Engineering Group (CSEC) Sun Wemnjie, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif requested the Chinese enterprise to help Punjab Government in implementing projects including building Rawalpindi Expressway, housing schemes, Lahore Mass Transit System, excavating iron ore and coal from newly discovered sites for the mutual benefit.

The CSEC is one of the China's 154 state owned corporations being run under State Council and ranked 385 among the top 500 companies. The CSEC was already in construction business in Pakistan. Shahbaz suggested to Mr. Sun that his corporation can help extract these reserves for use in manufacturing steel and power generation in Pakistan. He said that Punjab Government has precious lands on which it was planning to build housing schemes and invited Mr. Sun to help in development of these projects.

Shahbaz Sharif said that the modalities to generate funds to put these projects into reality could be sorted out with mutual consultations and added: "we need your good will and support in implementing these projects". Sharif said that there were many prominent Pakistani companies which were willing to undertake various joint ventures in collaboration with China.

Later, a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation was signed.

PROTOCOL OF PROJECTS COOPERATION SIGNED

During this visit, a protocol of projects cooperation between Punjab government and China's top entrepreneur- China National Chemical Engineering Group (CNCEC), was also signed on areas of cooperation between the two sides in fertilizer, power generation, mining, infrastructure development and waste water management. The Punjab Chief Minister held a meeting with the Chairman of China's top entrepreneur of CNCEC Mr. Jin Kening. Shahbaz on the occasion suggested formation of a committee from both sides instantly to prepare the contents of Protocol as he wanted implantation of these projects on fast track. The Chairman CNCED agreeing to the Chief Minister's proposals said that Pakistan is China's close friend and he will be delighted to form a committee. The Punjab Chief Minister said that there were vast reserves of raw iron and coal in the Punjab province and very suitable for making iron and coal for generating electricity. He said that he would welcome support from Chinese side to extract these reserves for the mutual benefit of the two sides. He also offered cooperation in the field of solid waste management, recycling of sewerage water for re-use, generation of power through use of coal. He also informed that Pakistan is facing serious energy crisis, which is also a big setback for our industrial growth.

CNCEC INVITED FOR POWER GENERATING UNIT ON TUNSA BARRAGE

Shahbaz Sharif said that they plan to set up power generating unit on Tunsa Barrage to generate 100 MW electricity. He also invited CNCEC for project cooperation in infrastructure development to lay a network of road, elevated express ways and motorways. Shahbaz Sharif on the occasion also briefed Mr. Jin Kening how to generate funds for these projects. He said that he is keen to invite Chinese side for these projects, because they have most modern technology with competitive cost.

CHINA DEVELOPMENT BANK ASSURES FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

The China Development Bank (CDB) also assured Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif for collaboration in providing financial assistance in energy and other projects. The assurance was given during a meeting between the Chief Minister Punjab and President of CDB Mr. Chenyuan. Mr. Chenyuan expressed deep interest in supporting various projects for collaboration. The President of CDB also expressed interest in collaboration for the development of agriculture sector, besides in banking and services areas.

HAIER GROUP OFFERED TO ESTABLISH A POWER GENERATING PLANT

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also offered the Haier Group to establish a power generating plant using garbage and waste as fuel, to produce cheap energy for meeting the company's own demand and for selling the surplus to the power supplying companies.

He made the proposal when the Vice-President of Haier Group Lu Jian called on him and pointed out the problem of shortage of power supply to his industrial zone. China, being close and time tested friend of Pakistan has contributed greatly towards our economic development, so I am always ready to address any problem faced by Chinese entrepreneur, Lu Jian said.

Shahbaz said that either through a Chinese company or itself, the Group can collect the garbage and waste from whole Sheikupura and adjoining areas with the help of machine sweepers and use it as fuel for this project. The Punjab Chief Minister also met with President of China Metallurgical Corporation (MCC) Mr. Shen Heting who briefed Shahbaz Sharif about economic and trade activities of MCC. Shen said that MCC is a leading company doing business in steel industry, equipments, assembling, copper, iron ore, zinc, real estate and paper making. He said that his company manufactures around 3 million tons of paper annually. During a meeting with Chinese Vice Minister for Commerce Chen Jian, Shahbaz Sharif said there was great potential for cooperation between the two countries in areas including agriculture, energy, infrastructure and manpower training.

The Chief Minister on the occasion said that he has brought with him various proposals to promote our trade and industrial growth with Chinese cooperation and pointed out that $ 7 billion bilateral trade is not commensurate with the depth of our bilateral relations. He expressed the hope that he will carry some tangible results of his visit back home. Briefing salient features of trade and economic opportunities available in his province, the Chief Minister said Pakistan is one of the 4th largest milk producer in the world and added that there was great potential available to explore it. He said that China had made tremendous development in all sectors of economy including dairy products can establish joint projects in this area with Pakistani counterparts that would surely benefits both the countries. Regarding cooperation in Dairy Farming, Shahbaz Sharif said Punjab is again the hub of livestock and sought Chinese cooperation to tap these opportunities for common benefit of both sides. Mr. Chen said his visit will contribute greatly towards promotion of economic cooperative relations between the two countries. Responding to the proposals put forward by Punjab Chief Minister, Mr. Chen assured that Chinese side will study and respond all these proposals for mutual benefit of both the countries.

PUNJAB EVOLVES A COMPREHENSIVE PACKAGE OF INCENTIVES FOR FOREIGN INVESTORS

Main Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif also addressed a seminar held in Shanghai for motivating Chinese investors for investment in Punjab. He said on the occasion that Punjab government wants to launch joint ventures with Chinese investment companies in different sectors and has evolved a comprehensive package of incentives for foreign investors. Punjab government will also provide complete security cover to foreign entrepreneurs, he added. Owners and CEOs of various mega companies of China were attended the seminar. Shahbaz Sharif especially mentioned support and cooperation of China in the development of Pakistan especially in Punjab during his speech. He said that there are bright prospects of cooperation between both the countries in agriculture, power generation, infrastructure development, solid waste management and communication sectors. He said that joint venture in these sectors will help overcome energy crisis as well as accelerate the pace of progress of the country. He said that joint ventures in various sectors will further strengthen industrial and trade relations between the two countries. He said that due to the measures taken by Punjab government a favourable atmosphere would be available to the Chinese investors for executing projects in a proper manner.

Secretary Trade & Investment Punjab, Tahir Raza Naqvi gave a detailed briefing to the participants of the seminar about the investment opportunities in Punjab. Representatives of Chinese investors also addressed the seminar. They expressed their interest in investment in various sectors. They also asked questions about joint ventures in different sectors.

THREE MOUS SIGNED

Three MoUs were also signed between Punjab government and Chinese companies. Under the first agreement signed between Punjab government and Golden Concord Holding, the Chinese company will construct and operate a power generation plant in Punjab to be operated with coal energy. Under the second agreement Greenland Construction Group Shanghai will provide assistance in the construction of an elevated expressway from Lahore Bridge to Niazi Interchange. Under the third agreement Shanghai Environmental Protection Company will provide necessary equipment for converting garbage into energy besides offering their services for this purpose.

SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES TO PROMOTE CHINESE INVESTMENT

KANWAL SALEEM

Haier Ruba Group of China is in the process of setting up China-Pakistan Economic Zone in Pakistan that would house a large number of Industrial units to produce goods for duty free export to China and would also encourage Chinese investors for setting up industries and manufacturing units in Pakistan.

Pakistan will get maximum benefits from this Zone because it would not only bring investment but also help create employment opportunities apart from strengthening the economy. The Government has acknowledged the initiative of the Chinese Group and assured all out support for the setting up of Zone. It assured the Group for removal of impediments and resolution of the Group's concerns for land acquisition.

Moreover, China has also shown interest to set up a car manufacturing plant which would open new avenue of trade and economic activities and the cars would be available on cheap rates. Initially, 1000 vehicles would be brought in the market and then the plant would start production according to market trend, sources in the Ministry of Production said.

The proposed car manufacturing plant would also help generate economic activities as well as employment opportunities in the country.

Leading businessmen said Pak-China friendship was deep rooted and time-tested. They lauded China for making huge investment in Pakistan saying this shows bonds of love and affection towards each other. The proposed project would persuade other countries to make investment in Pakistan. China has been evincing keen interest for the development and prosperity of Pakistan saying by setting up of car manufacturing plant would open new avenue of trade and economic activities and the cars would be available on cheap rates.

Moreover, Zong Network, which had started its vast operation in telecommunication sector in Pakistan, has planned to make further investment of US $800 million in Pakistan. Zong has attracted a large base of consumers due to low rates and attractive packages.