Bank of China has formally launched its operations in Pakistan, with its first branch inaugurated in Karachi on Tuesday.
Speaking to the inauguration ceremony in Islamabad, Bank of China Chairman Chen Siqing said it was "a great honour" for the bank to be launching in Pakistan, observing that the Karachi branch was its first in South Asia.
He said the bank would strengthen the "brotherly relations" between the two countries in the financial sector.
Siqing said China’s progressive and fast-paced economy was ready to enter an era of high-grade standards, and emphasised that the Bank of China could help Pakistan effectively reap the benefits of China’s economic prosperity.
State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa welcomed the bank to Pakistan, saying that the increased diversity of foreign banks would increase the country’s economic resilience. He also expressed hopes that Pakistan would learn from the Bank of China's expertise in the small and medium enterprises sector.
Addressing the ceremony, Acting Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan said Pakistan’s economy was "picking up quickly" and that the opening of the Bank of China "marked the confidence of the Chinese corporate sector in Pakistan’s economic situation."
Also speaking at the inauguration ceremony, President Mamnoon Hussain remarked that the Bank of China's arrival indicated that the benefits of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would soon start trickling down to the masses.
The president termed the Bank of China's arrival to Pakistan a "memorable event in the everlasting friendship between Pakistan and China" and expressed hope that the start of operations by the bank would speed up the pace of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
President Hussain said that the hard work of the past several years had created an excellent business environment in Pakistan and that the situation was becoming more and more favourable for domestic and foreign investment.
Calling Pakistan a natural hub for regional trade activities due to its location at the crossroads of Central Asia, West Asia and the Middle East, he said CPEC had further increased its importance.
"With the initiation of CPEC, the infrastructure sector in Pakistan is witnessing splendid growth with projects — including dams, atomic reactors, coal mining, textile parks, road and railway lines and oil and gas pipelines — being constructed at a brisk pace.
He credited the government's sound economic policies for the environment for investments becoming very favourable.
He also said attractive opportunities in the country’s banking field could play positive role in providing the required resources for promoting commercial activities and developing infrastructure.
President Hussain also expressed confidence that this would lead to further improvement in the national
growth rate and enable the banking industry to help make the environment more conducive for business.
He assured the Bank of China of the continued support of the government and State Bank of Pakistan in expanding its operations in the country.