Habib Bank Ltd (HBL), Pakistan’s largest lender, has been granted a licence to operate in Mainland China.

The bank is to open a branch in the western city of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. The move highlights the growing bond between the two nations, as China continues to pump billions of dollars into the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPC).

It’s likely that the branch will facilitate the trade of goods from the Middle East to Xinjiang, which is landlocked. China is currently constructing a deep sea port in Gwadar city, in the south of Pakistan, which will accelerate energy imports into the country.

In a statement, HBL said: “HBL will be establishing banking operations in Urumqi, the largest city of the province of Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan along the traditional Silk Route.”

HBL owns a 40% share of Pakistan’s lending market and is its most visible bank overseas too, with branches in London and New York, as well as throughout the Middle East.