Pak, China ink currency swap deal to boost trade
Posted on: 05:09 PM IST Dec 24, 2011
Islamabad: Pakistan and China have concluded a crucial USD 1.58 billion currency swap deal and multi-million dollar pacts to upgrade the strategic Karakoram Highway and a power plant, amid severe strains in US-Pak ties.
The two "all-weather" strategic partners signed six bilateral agreements, including the 10-billion-yuan currency swap deal between China's central bank and State Bank of Pakistan, on Friday.
The pact were inked during a visit to Islamabad by China's top diplomat, State Councillor Dai Bingguo, who arrived in Islamabad on Friday.
During delegation-level talks with Dai, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said, "China was a cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy" and that both countries enjoyed "unanimity of views on regional and global issues".
Dai said the two sides should strengthen strategic coordination and expand practical cooperation.
China will step up cooperation with Pakistan in energy, infrastructure and agriculture, he said.
"Going forward, China will reduce tariffs on Pakistani goods and increase imports from Pakistan within the framework of the China-Pakistan free trade area," Dai said at a reception marking the closing of the "Year of China-Pakistan Friendship".
China-Pakistan aim to step up the bilateral trade to USD 15 billion by 2015 from USD 9 billion last year.
Dai's visit to Islamabad coincided with fresh strains in Pakistan-US ties over a cross-border NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last month.
Pakistan responded to the attack by closing all NATO supply routes and forcing the US to vacate Shamsi airbase, reportedly used by CIA-operated drones. The Pakistan Army has rejected the findings of a US inquiry into the incident that admitted lapses by American troops.