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PROFILE

ABDUL JALEEL

COLUMN FOR THE RECORD
POLITICS & POLICY 1- PARLIAMENTARIANS RAISE IN SALARIES
2-
PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO CHINA AND S. KOREA
SOCIETY 1- QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP
2-
AFGHAN REFUGEES
ENVIRONMENT ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION
COUNTRY PROFILE AUSTRALIA

 

PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO CHINA AND SOUTH KOREA

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The trip was to seek heavy investments in Pakistan
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From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI,
Islamabad

Nov 24 - Dec 07, 2003
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President Pervez Musharraf's recent visit to China and South Korea is being rightly termed as of historic significance. Apart from the economic gains of enhanced trade and investment, this visit, specially to South Korea, will certainly serve as an indication of "look towards east approach" in our foreign policy.

Although the Ministers for Finance, Mr. Shaukat Aziz and of Privatisation Dr. Hafeez Sheikh, two important members of President encourage, in a joint press conference, on return to Islamabad, focused primarily on the economic aspect, the visit, as is being talked about here in informed circles, has more to it than merely economic dimension. Viewed in the context of geostrategic situation in the sub-continent, the visit to both countries was important to articulate our state position with regard to new challenges. The changed diplomatic stature after the 9/11 incident has primarily given voice to the country at the international level. This new engagement needs closer interaction with our friends so as to clarify our position and ally fears that might be speared by vested interest in this regard. Rising as a bridge between the Islamic world and the West, a goal which Pakistan cherished ever since the country came into being, would need proactive diplomacy and an articulate leader. At the same time neighbours will have to be taken on board so that the regional stability is not compromised in international diplomatic adventurism.

In their joint press conference, the two Ministers said that a significant number of trade and economic Memorandum of Understandings were signed between the government and the private sectors during the visit. Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz said that the "Punch line" of the trip to the two highly important countries of South East Asia was that Asia is the future in terms of economic growth and opportunity. Asia has tremendous potential for economic development. He said the focus of the Boao Forum in China was that there is a dire need for closer economic cooperation among the Asian countries, specifically the organisation like ASEAN and others must coordinate in the economic spheres.

The Finance Minister, referring to Pak-China trade cooperation said that wide-ranging discussions were held between the delegations of the two countries and a number of accords were signed. He said that China has given Pakistan concessions on 893 items, and has got concessions on 200 items. The Export and Import Bank of China (Exim Bank) has agreed to set up a credit line of $500 million in Pakistan under "preferential financing". The chairman of Exim Bank of China would be visiting Pakistan soon, the Minister said the agreement in this regard would be signed in January. He also said China Development Bank has expressed its interest in investing in Pakistan. China would also conduct hydrological survey of Thar coal project in Pakistan and make feasibility study of a power station and would be sending its experts to Pakistan. "Similarly another Chinese company, ZTE, is already in Pakistan", the minister said adding that President Musharraf has offered EPZs (exclusive economic zones) for the Chinese exporting companies. China being an immediate neighbour of Pakistan and being and exporter of capital goods was very important for us.

 

 

Citing the President's visit to South Korea, Shaukat Aziz said that Korean Exim Bank has also expressed its interest in doing business in Pakistan. This bank has stopped credit for Pakistan earlier. "Next year, the head of Korean Exim Bank would visiting Pakistan," the minister said. He said that rescheduling was also agreed with South Korea in addition to the signing of the accord with the South Korean Petroleum Corporation for oil and gas exploration in Pakistan. The South Korean ventures were also offered the EPZ in Pakistan. The SME Korea that has 2.8 million companies would also cooperate with Pakistan in various spheres. It was agreed that both the government and the private sector of the two countries would endeavour for boosting trade and economic cooperation.

Speaking on the occasion, Privatisation Minister Dr. Hafiz Sheikh said that the trip to China and South Korea was to seek heavy investments in Pakistan. He said the President prudently highlighted the potential of economic opportunities in Pakistan at the Beijing Forum. Pakistan's approach is to focus on China, which is a remarkably growing economy as well as our immediate neighbour, he said adding that during the Shanghai Forum in which over seven hundred companies have participated that included China Council, China Chambers of Commerce etc., 12 MoUs 2 LoIs and 6 joint ventures were agreed between the private sectors of Pakistan and China, which were to the tune of $220 million. Seven agreement were linked for vehicle production, 5 for motorcycles etc. The minister said that President Musharraf has directed for setting up of China Cell within the Board of Investment in Pakistan.

As the divide between East and West on economic issues gets deeper, the demands for economic cooperation among the ASEAN countries get credence. This was the prime focus of Boao conference, which the President attend as a key speaker. Viewed in the context of Boao conference, the President's visit can be term as a success as it helped Pakistan sign a number of trade and economic MoUs, besides assurances of $500 million investment by Exim Bank of China.