Habib Bank and China Machinery Engineering Pen MoU on Agriculture

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Habib Bank Limited (HBL) and China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) on Agricultural Cooperation was signed towards the end of the CPEC Industrial Cooperation B2B Investment Conference in Lahore.

Federal Board of Investment (BOI), in collaboration with the Punjab government, organized a B2B Investment Conference where Minister of State and Chairman BOI, Muhammad Azfar Ahsan, and Secretary BOI, Fareena Mazhar, were the keynote speakers, while other speakers included SAPM on CPEC Affairs, Khalid Mansoor, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Nong Rong, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, Moin ul Haque, and Minister of Industries and Commerce Punjab, Mian Aslam Iqbal.

Chairman BOI highlighted that CPEC Industrial Cooperation is all-inclusive in its scope and open to third-party participation. He invited the business community from China and all over the world to invest in Pakistan’s economic sectors.

Ahsan stressed that Pakistan has a liberal investment regime and apprised the participants on the various investor-friendly policies introduced by the incumbent government, including electric vehicle policy, mobile manufacturing, construction sector policies, Sole Enterprise Special Economic Zone Regulations 2020, SEZ Zone Enterprise Admin, and Sale/Lease/Sublease of Plot Regulations 2021.

The Chairman also informed the participants about the “Pak-China B2B Investment Portal,” which has been developed by BOI in collaboration with the China Council for International Investment Promotion, and both local and Chinese companies are being encouraged to register for creating the possibility of materializing potential JV opportunities.

The Chairman BOI further elaborated, “Pakistan accords top priority to the development of Special Economic Zones under CPEC.” He explained that currently, out of the nine CPEC SEZs, three are at an advanced stage of development, including Allama Iqbal Industrial City in Punjab, Rashakai SEZ in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Dhabeji SEZ in Sindh. He further informed that attractive fiscal incentives are being offered under SEZs, including a tax-free period of 10 years and custom duty exemption on import of capital goods to both the developer and enterprises housed in the SEZs.

Secretary BOI, Fareena Mazhar, stated that there are ample opportunities for foreign investors to invest with 100 percent equity or joint ventures in various fields with the repatriation of investment and profit allowed with legal protection provisioned under the Acts of Parliament to foreign investment. The Secretary further added that government has a uniform treatment for local and foreign investors, along with 100 percent repatriation of profits and dividends, and there is no requirement of minimum investment for businesses startups.

While apprising the participants on the “Pakistan Regulatory Modernization Initiative,” Fareena stated that the platform had been established with a mechanism to transform the regulatory landscape across multifaceted tiers of government in Pakistan.

Fareena underscored that several international corporations and businesses have a long history of association with Pakistan and are earning a substantial return on their investments. Therefore, businesses communities are invited to reap optimum benefits from the lucrative and liberal investment regime of the government and explore investment opportunities available in different sectors of the national economy.

Special Assistant to PM on CPEC, Khalid Mansoor, spoke about the way forward on the process of industrialization in Pakistan under CPEC. He shared that now the entire focus is on phase-II of CPEC, which will be all about expansion and development. He added that during this phase, the four SEZs are being focused, with special attention given to textiles, IT, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, FMCG, and renewable energy. He also apprised the participants of the recent improvements introduced in the legal regime to facilitate investors by BOI & CPEC authority in regards to one window operations.

Provincial Minister of Punjab for Industries & Commerce, Mian Aslam Iqbal, talked in detail about the potential of economic sectors of Pakistan, especially those of Punjab with a special focus on agriculture, textile, food processing, etc. He also shared that there is a good opportunity for Chinese firms to invest in the Naya Pakistan Housing and Development Authority and mentioned the tourism sector of Pakistan as having great potential.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Nong Rong, and Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, Moin ul Haque, appreciated the steps taken by the government of Pakistan to further strengthen Pak-China relations by exploring areas of mutual cooperation. They also acknowledged BOI’s role in creating a business-friendly environment and facilitating Chinese investors every step of the way and renewed their commitment to work in close coordination with BOI.

The conference was a huge success in terms of turnover as more than seventy Chinese companies participated with an active interest in investing in Pakistan, and many other local and foreign investors were also present. The Board of Investment successfully sensitized potential investors about the investment regime of Pakistan, and the conference was followed by a B2B interaction between Chinese and Pakistani companies.