Pakistan on fast track to reap CPEC benefits, says Chinese envoy


–Yao says Pakistan’s status developing country on the rise

–Islamabad to host first-ever agricultural expo in October 

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing on Sunday lauded Pakistan’s rising status as an economically developing country, as he revealed significant progress made on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects along with upcoming developments.

He expressed was addressing the participants of the ‘Friends of Silk Road’ forum her held under the aegis of Pakistan, China Institute. The forum was addressed by several participants and moderated by Mushahid Hussain Sayed.

The Chinese ambassador revealed that the two governments had identified 27 new projects in the second stage of CPEC out of which 17 projects would be put on fast track.

He said that China would be setting up six agricultural demonstration centres and 50 schools for tribal areas in addition to clean drinking water facilities in several areas.

“We are going to locate five model villages to improve community building as part of efforts to help eradicate poverty as per Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision in the second stage of CPEC. Both sides have to work hard to speed up work on these projects,” the ambassador said while further revealing that foreign direct investment (FDI) investments would also be expanded.

Terming CPEC a successive and continuing process of mutual cooperation, he said, “It is logical and suitable. The focus of diplomatic relationship to economic cooperation. We have decided to hold ninth JCC in November this year”.

While lauding the world’s recognition of Pakistan’s developing economy, Jing revealed that his government is working with Pakistan for developing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) by trying to engage to build up manufacturing capacity and industrial development for boosting exports.

“It’s positive to note that the world is recognising Pakistani economic development. The Pakistani government is making efforts to reform the ease of doing business and bringing structural reforms,” he added.

He further stated that agricultural cooperation is a major boost as both countries are agro economies so, China will try to add more value to Pakistani agricultural products. More Chinese companies would come to Pakistan which would entail Pakistan’s first-ever agricultural expo in October with the attendance of many Chinese companies with their industrial products.

Further, Minister for Planning and Development Makhdoom Khurso Bakhtiar said that provision of utilities to SEZs would be ensured whereas Rs20 billion has been earmarked for next year’s Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). “In the new phase of CPEC, we have a hefty portfolio in steel, meat, railway network transformation. We are also confident that the Karachi-Lahore Peshawar (ML-1) Railway Track would be given high priority in the development agenda as our numbers are enough to meet ML-I development,” he added.

Addressing the audience further, General BoI Executive Director Fareena Mazhar said that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is covering a third of the world’s population. Pakistan is a country with ample opportunities and over 1000 foreign companies are working here. However, progress on nine SEZs has not been as expected due to the non-supply of electricity and gas.

She said Dhabeji, Rashakai, Faisalabad SEZs will be provided gas and electricity from PSDP funding which Khusro Bakhtiar has agreed to whereas there is no cap on the repatriation of profits to investment countries. “Pakistan is doing a lot in ease of doing business. Pakistan came among top 20 states with reforms in ease of doing business. We encourage Chinese investors to come and invest in Pakistan and a special CPEC unit has been set in BoI and Chinese speaking hosts are there to help and assist the Chinese investors. Since Chinese are relocating their businesses to other locations, we hope that Pakistan would be their best option,” she added.

Moreover, CPEC Projects Director/Coordinator Hassan Daud Butt observed that the public sector organisations of Pakistan have learnt a lot through CPEC after which Chinese company CRBC CEO gave a detailed briefing on the Rashakai Special Economic Zone. The zone is being developed in three stages with $130 billion.

A student from a school constructed by China Port Holding Company in Gwadar gave a presentation on the performance of the school. She expressed gratitude to the government of China for investing in girls’ education in Gwadar.

While concluding the event, Ambassador Masood Khalid shared his views on Chinas assistance and help on the diplomatic forums and CPEC.