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China, Pakistan To Formalise US$10bil Deals
News From : DagangHalal.com (12/20/2010)

ISLAMABAD: China and Pakistan are set to conclude another US$10bil worth of deals, the latest signings on a trade focused trip to South Asia for Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Business leaders are scheduled to formalise deals at Islamabad's five-star Marriott Hotel, where a devastating suicide truck bomb killed 60 people in 2008, adding to the US$20bil deals inked over last week.

Boosting trade and investment have been the main focus of what has been the first visit in five years by a Chinese premier to the nuclear-armed Muslim nation on the front line of the US-led war on Al-Qaeda.

Pakistan regards China as its closest ally and the deals are seen locally as incredibly important to a moribund economy, which was dealt a massive blow by catastrophic flooding this year and suffers from sluggish foreign investment.

Pakistani Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the countries signed 13 agreements and memorandums of understanding on Friday in fields ranging from energy to railways, from reconstruction to agriculture and culture.

Kaira said China had promised to fund all the energy projects of Pakistan, which he termed a major breakthrough. Pakistan suffers from a debilitating energy crisis and produces only 80% of the electricity it needs.

China will provide assistance in 36 projects in Pakistan to be completed in five years, he said. Basically this is a five-year development plan.

Although not specifically mentioned, behind-the-scenes talks are also expected on China building a one-gigawatt nuclear power plant as part of Pakistani plans to produce 8,000 megawatts of electricity by 2025 to make up its energy shortfall.

The outcome of the visit is beyond our expectations. It is an historic day, Pakistan's ambassador to Beijing Masood Khan said on Friday.

Pakistan depends on China's financial and political clout to offset the perceived threat from rival India and rescue its economy from the doldrums of catastrophic flooding, a severe energy crisis and poor foreign investment.

Pakistan's prime minister has expressed hope that trade would rise to between US$15bil and US$18bil over the next five years.

China, meanwhile, has been concerned about the threat of Islamist militants infiltrating its territory from Pakistan.

Before arriving in Islamabad, Wen visited India, where he and his 400-strong delegation inked deals that would see bilateral trade double to US$100bil a year by 2015. AFP

- The Star Online

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