LAHORE: Minister of State and Federal Board of Investment (BoI) Chairman Mohammad Azfar Ahsan said on Tuesday that Pakistan was following a liberal investment regime and facilitation was its foremost cornerstone for instilling confidence in investors and creating conducive environment to attract local and foreign investment. He also invited investors, business, and industrialist community from not only China but also from other countries to come and invest in various sectors in Pakistan. He expressed these views in his welcome address at the inaugural session of Punjab Chapter of CEPC Industrial Cooperation and B2B (business to business) Investment Conference, at a local hotel. Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on CPEC Khalid Mansoor gave a detailed presentation on the CPEC projects, “Way forward on the process of industrialization in Pakistan”. Provincial Minister for Industries and Commerce Mian Aslam Iqbal delivered the keynote address on behalf of Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Federal Secretary BpI Fareena Mazhar spoke on “Investment regime in Pakistan”, while Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong and Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Moin-ul-Haque shared their views through video-link. Azfar Ahsan said that the BoI is undertaking regular activities of high marginal impact to attract and sustain productive investments in a set of sectors which collectively promise massive employment and labour-intensive export-oriented industrialisation. He also thanked the Chinese participants and said that they had always supported the BoI in its initiative of bilateral business and investment cooperation. CPEC industrial cooperation is a long-term endeavour which is picking pace lately, being the lead agency in the CPEC investment since 2016, the BoI has made notable progress. Azfar Ahsan said that now the second phase of CPEC had commenced, the BoI would continue to take lead for investment promotion, facilitation and industrial cooperation. The first phase of CPEC required leading role of the government, while second phase calls for enhanced role of industrialists, the private sector, and businesses community. The government role would be of facilitator now and it is devising effective polices, laws, and efficient infrastructure to facilitate B2B and people-to-people linkages. He said that CPEC industrial cooperation is all-inclusive in its scope, and it is open to the third party participation. The minister of state and BoI chairman said that the government had already launched conducive policies such as electric vehicles policy, mobile manufacturing policy, construction sector policies, Sole Enterprise Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Regulations 2020, and SEZs Enterprises Admin and Sale Lease and Sub-Lease of Plot Regulation 2021 to increase investment in Pakistan. The BoI was mandated to promote, encourage and facilitate local and foreign investment, and in this regard several initiatives were being undertaken by the government of Pakistan such as ease of doing business, and regulatory, structural, and tax reforms. Keeping up with demands of industrial cooperation, he mentioned, the BoI, in collaboration with China Council for International Investment Promotion, had recently developed the Pakistan-China B2B Investment Portal to populate the data of Pakistani companies which were worthy for JVs (Joint Ventures) with interested Chinese companies. Provincial Minister for Industries and Commerce Mian Aslam Iqbal said that Pakistan, especially Punjab, with its highly skilled labour force and natural resources, was ideally placed to act as the forward manufacturing base for industries of China and other countries. He said Pakistan and China were celebrating 70 years of brotherhood, and their leaderships and the people have always stood-by each-other. He believed that such regular interactions of the businesses are most important to implement China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in an effective manner. CPEC is a great bond of mutual socio-economic growth between both the countries, creating investment opportunities not only for China and Pakistan but also for the whole world, he remarked. Mian Aslam Iqbal said that with 6th largest population, excellent road infrastructure, connectivity via rail and air links, large industrial base, green agriculture landscape, and more than 500,000 graduates produced every year; Punjab is one of the most preferred investment destinations in the world. He added, as CPEC is now becoming fully operational after the completion of the early harvest projects and start of the second phase which shall result in industrial cooperation between Pakistan and China, Punjab has a critical role to assume.” This second phase of CPEC demands focus on industrial cooperation, increase in agriculture production, value-addition, and business connectivity in all sectors of the economy so as to learn and expand our market access, he added. The minister said, “Industrial collaboration and mutual cooperation in the socio-economic segments which is top priority of both sides shall help us to create a win situation for our people. China Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (FTA-II) signed during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China in 2019 would open new avenues in enhancing trade between both the countries and addressing balance of trade deficit issue.” The current global economic situation demands that Pakistan and China must work more closely to harness the full potential of CPEC and CPFTA II and other regional cooperation frameworks. Mian Aslam underscored, “Today, we all must take strong steps towards promoting and highlighting the investment regime, industrialization framework, and the available opportunities of Punjab. Punjab is the largest province of Pakistan with population of 110 million Punjab and contributes 60 percent to the national GDP Pakistan.” There have been three Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Punjab out of which two were operational when we took over the government, he said and asserted that present government has launched seven more SEZs while the project of Quaid-i-Azam Business Park in the province has been revived to fast track the industrialization. Allama Iqbal Industrial City under CPEC, is also developing speedily. There are also twenty four small industrial estates operational across the province. The Punjab government has taken several initiatives for creating vocational skills among the young people and to enable them to work with the large key players/industry. He said that Chinese investors can use Pakistan as a forward manufacturing base for strong international access. “We look forward for more investments from China especially in value addition of textile and garments manufacturing sector, Agriculture, IT and low-cost housing sector. “At the same time we also want to invite investors from around the world to take the advantage of this opportunity created under the CPEC and become partners in our growth journey. “The provincial government is fully committed to offering a competitive environment to attract FDI (Foreign Direct Investment),” he concluded.