BEIJING: Pakistan and China have finalised a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on industrial cooperation and established a cooperative framework for socio-economic development.
The MoU, concluded at the 8th meeting of the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) in Beijing, will cover assistance in multiple industries such as textile, petrochemical, iron and steel and mines and mineral. The meeting was chaired by Federal Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar and China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Vice Chairman Ning Jizhe.
Speaking on the occasion, the planning minister reiterated Pakistan’s firm commitment to CPEC which he termed the heart and soul of Pakistan-China economic cooperation.
Appreciating the progress made in CPEC, the minister said, “the stage is all set to carry it to the next level wherein collaboration can be diversified to enhance trade and industrial cooperation, socio-economic development, agriculture, people-to-people interaction and knowledge-sharing.”
Bakhtiar emphasised that cooperation in the industrial sector would help attract investment in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and encourage relocation of Chinese industry.
Both sides agreed to work jointly to develop the SEZs at a rapid pace. Moreover, in the next phase of CPEC, the two nations would enhance participation in the maritime sector, port development and the automobile sector.
Pakistan and China discussed the promotion of joint ventures and relocation of industrial units from China to harness Pakistan’s export potential.
The two sides also held maiden meeting of the recently established Joint Working Group on Socio-economic Cooperation which discussed a detailed action plan for future cooperation in areas such as education, agriculture, poverty alleviation, skills development, healthcare, water supply and vocational training.
Both the neighbours agreed on poverty alleviation demonstration projects in all regions of Pakistan. The first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Agriculture will be held early next year.
In his remarks, Ning said CPEC served fundamental interests of the two countries and their people.
Terming the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan a phenomenal success, he expressed confidence that Pakistan-China relationship would continue to grow and prosper.
While undertaking a review of areas of cooperation under CPEC, Pakistan and China expressed satisfaction and willingness to expedite work on all projects including those in Gwadar.
Bakhtiar added that Gwadar was the jewel of CPEC and with the development of auxiliary projects, it was poised to become the next big economic and transshipment hub of the region.
The two sides agreed to broaden the scope of CPEC and further strengthen the JCC mechanism through increased frequency of exchanges.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Board of Investment Chairman Haroon Sharif also attended the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2018.