BEIJING: National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) will be granted a preparatory licence by the Chinese government for establishing a branch in Beijing in the next three months, a senior official of the bank confirmed on Monday.

The move is aimed at further accelerating trade and investment activities under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the official added. “China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) has already accorded formal approval to our initial application for setting up a branch through a letter issued in May this year,” NBP’s Chief Representative Chaudhry Muhammad Waseef Aslam said in an interview.

“Now, we have submitted another application, seeking issuance of a preparatory licence, which is under process and we are hopeful of getting a formal approval in October this year.”

He said after issuance of the preparatory licence, the CBRC will give a nine-month time period for setting up a branch. He also expressed confidence in NBP’s ability to make all arrangements in that regard in due course.

Elaborating on NBP’s activities in the country, Aslam said the bank had established a representative office in China in 1981 with a view to promoting Sino-Pak trade and economic activities and developing business relationship with China’s development finance institutions.

“However, there is a need for establishing a full-fledged branch of a Pakistani bank to further facilitate traders and investors and enhance quality business after the signing of CPEC, a key component of the One Belt, One Road initiative,” he said.

The bank will facilitate joint ventures between quality business houses of the two countries for capacity building and transfer of technology.

Responding to a question, Aslam said no consultant was hired for the entire drill, which saved around $400,000 for the bank. At present, he said, the bank was conducting market research, liaising activities and providing consultancy services to Chinese and Pakistani clients.

“NBP has relationship management application (RMA) agreements with 49 Chinese banks,” he said, highlighting the Bank of China, ICBC, Agricultural Bank of China, China Development Bank, China Construction Bank and China Exim Bank as major institutions with which NBP had been associated through contracts and memoranda of understanding (MoU).

NBP has established branches in 25 countries including those in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia with the latest branch set up in Saudi Arabia.

Aslam noted Habib Bank’s presence in Urumqi, Xinjiang while commenting on activities of other Pakistani banks in China. Xinjiang is also the starting point of CPEC and links the region with Gwadar port in Pakistan.

Responding to a question, he said representative offices of Askari Bank, Allied Bank, United Bank and Bank AL Habib were also working to provide banking services to Chinese organisations and corporate institutions working in Pakistan.

“All these banks are eyeing opportunities arising from CPEC, which is estimated to attract infrastructure investment of $55 billion,” he stated.