Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal presided over a pre-Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting on Tuesday to review the progress made in preparation for the 11th JCC meeting on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is expected to be convened next month.
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood apprised the meeting of the third International Cooperation and Coordination Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting held virtually on July 22.
He was quoted as saying that China appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to provide a safe and smooth business environment and the leadership’s commitment to building CPEC with “Pakistan speed”.
The meeting discussed third-party participation and extension of CPEC to Afghanistan. It was pointed out that cooperation between think tanks on both sides should be encouraged to further deepen the strategic economic cooperation under CPEC.
The minister was apprised of the activities that were planned to promote the CPEC narrative at the national and global levels.
During the meeting, the Power Division highlighted the agenda for the forthcoming ninth JWG on energy meeting scheduled to be held in the first week of August.
It was informed that 1,124-megawatt Kohala and 700.7MW Azad Pattan hydropower projects as well as 1,320MW Thar coal power plant would be taken up with the Chinese side in the next scheduled JWG meeting.
Furthermore, a joint study for future development of Thar coal has also been made part of the agenda.
The minister underlined that measures had been taken to provide sufficient power for Gwadar city and stressed the need for renewable energy projects for Gwadar city development in the future.
The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication briefed the meeting on the agenda of the forthcoming second JWG on IT with focus on ICT infrastructure development, policy and regulations, human resources development and cyber security.
The planning minister stressed the need for cooperation with China in the IT sector, as China had emerged as a leader in artificial intelligence, and cooperation with China in the field promised enormous benefits to Pakistan.
In addition to that, the meeting also discussed projects in the agriculture and socio-economic sectors for the forthcoming 11th JCC huddle.
It was underlined that that China’s expanding agriculture market provided significant potential for Pakistan’s exports.
It was emphasised that modernisation and mechanisation of agriculture should be carried out in Pakistan in the context of CPEC, as well as other measures should be taken to enable agricultural development and tap into the Chinese market for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
Foot and mouth disease (FMD) and quarantine issues were explicitly marked as important hurdles in the way of meat export to China. However, a representative of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research informed the meeting that they were being addressed on a priority basis with Chinese assistance.
The minister concluded the sitting by laying stress on the importance of people-to-people exchange programme between China and Pakistan and how it may contribute to the economic development of the country.
He told the planning secretary to devise a plan to boost exchanges under CPEC so that emerging leaders in every field could experience the development in China and internalise it for the development of Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2022.
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