Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Wednesday said that Pakistan has simplified the process for international investments in Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
Addressing an award ceremony held to honour 27 Pakistani staffers of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects at the Chinese Embassy, the minister said that two days ago, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved a simplified approval process for industries and companies willing to invest and operate in SEZs.
In addition to this, both federal and provincial governments have developed a mechanism to facilitate companies that are interested in investing in SEZs, he added.
He also said that in spite of Covid-19 pandemic, the year of 2021 witnessed remarkable progress in CPEC projects.
“We have seen the completion of projects and most importantly broadening of the CPEC through industrial cooperation framework, and now it is showing results such as construction work at AIlama Iqbal and Rashakai SEZs as well as the expansion of the SEZ in Gwadar,” he added.
The north zone, which the prime minister inaugurated a few months ago, is 35 times bigger than the south zone, and this shows Pakistan’s commitment towards progress and future of CPEC, he further said.
Asad said that in the second phase of CPEC, both countries are focusing on agriculture, and science and technology sector.
He said that in the 10th JCC meeting, Pakistan and China agreed to work on the information technology domain. China has made tremendous progress in this domain and Pakistan is now starting to see significant progress in this area, he added. He also said that during the last year, the export of Pakistan’s IT services grew by 47 percent and this year they are hoping for 38 percent, therefore, there are tremendous opportunities for Pakistani and Chinese companies in this sector.
The minister said that CPEC is being broadened in all fields and many projects started in the first phase have been completed or are about to be completed. This is testimony of not just the quality of relationship between Pakistan and China but evidence of our strong bond and commitment for completion of CPEC projects, he added.
He also said that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is truly historic as it was conceived for the development of all humanity.
He further said that President XI Jinping’s vision to enhance prosperity through connectedness among the countries and shared prosperity is a remarkable model for the world.
Asad also appreciated China for supporting Pakistan during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Responding to a question, he said that the opponents of CPEC are not only opposing CPEC through words but are also sponsoring terrorism. However, Pakistan is taking effective security measures and no CPEC project has been spoiled by terrorist activities, he added. He also said that the prime minister is personally reviewing security of Chinese projects and workers.
He also congratulated the Pakistani staffers working on CPEC projects and said that Chinese companies would have seen the quality of the Pakistani professionals because they are hardworking and always willing to learn.
Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on CPEC Affairs Khalid Mansoor said that this year marked 70 years of “vibrant, growing diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan”.
Previously it was limited to bilateral relationship but now it is long-term economic partnership through shared future through the CPEC, he added.
He also said that despite disruption of normal life all over the world because of the pandemic, CPEC projects have not faced any constraint due to firm mutual commitment of both countries.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Director General Ying Xiong said that all-weather strategic cooperative partners, Pakistan and China have continuously strengthened strategic communication and safeguarded common interests.
China’s development and growth is in Pakistan’s interest, and it is also China’s sincere hope that Pakistan can enjoy stable development for its prosperity.
Addressing the ceremony, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong said that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan. The CPEC project, despite the challenge of pandemic, has made great achievement, he said.
“During this year, CPEC has always been the focus of our two countries. President Xi Jinping called Prime Minister Imran Khan on the phone on October 26 and both expressed their will to jointly build the CPEC, to promote cooperation in agriculture, digital economy and people’s livelihood, and bring more benefits to the local people,” he added.
He further said that both leaders reiterated their resolve to comprehensively build health, industrial, trade, digital, and green corridors, so as to transform CPEC into a demonstration project for high-quality development of the BRI.
The envoy said that the 10th JCC meeting was successfully held, setting the path for the future cooperation, and added one more Joint Working Group on Information Technology Industry, opening up new areas of great potential for cooperation.
He said that the Prime Minister Imran attaches great importance to the CPEC. The Pakistan government established the China-Pakistan Relations Steering Committee to coordinate and resolve CPEC issues; introduced the special visa policy for CPEC to facilitate investment; set up a Foreign National Security Cell to strengthen security measures, he added. These practical measures have injected more confidence in the development of the CPEC, he further said.
Rong said that with joint efforts of both countries, the Matiari-Lahore HVDC Transmission Line has brought Pakistan into a new era of AC-DC power grid, the Karot Hydro power Project started water storage and the Gwadar Technical and Vocational Institute was completed.
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