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Chinese firms keen to develop special economic zones


ISLAMABAD: Chinese companies are exploring the possibilities of relocating their major industries in special economic zones (SEZs) in Pakistan.

“Chinese companies are willing to develop SEZs in Pakistan. We must have a long term mechanism for industrial cooperation,” said Du Zhenli, a director general at China International Engineering Consulting Corporation, on Tuesday.

Zhenli, who is leading a high-level Chinese delegation, was addressing a discussion hosted by the Board of Investment. “The inclusion of relevant experts from each side in the joint working group is mandatory for policy, planning and devising a roadmap for industrial cooperation,” Zhenli added.

He said Pakistan side should align their industrial framework with their medium and long term development plans,” the Chinese official said while reiterating commitment to continue to invest in Pakistan to take this initiative forward.

Chinese delegation discussed possibilities of relocating of their industries in selected nine SEZs in the country, including each in four provinces, one in each Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit and two SEZs under jurisdiction of the federal government.

A 60-member Chinese delegation is currently on a four-day visit to discuss trade and industry opportunities.   Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal said development of SEZs is the most important phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), “which would prove as a milestone in relocation of Chinese industries and flourishing our local enterprises.”

Iqbal, speaking to a Chinese delegation, said one belt one road vision has connected Europe, Asia and Africa.  “CPEC, the flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative, is helping to improve infrastructure and overcome power outages in the country, thus removing the main two bottlenecks, faced by Pakistan’s economy,” he said.

Planning minister said the industrial cooperation between China and Pakistan would help relocate Chinese industries, creating thousands of job opportunities, transfer of knowledge and expertise.

Minister Iqbal said completion of CPEC’s first mega coal power plant at Sahiwal has set a new world record in the fastest implementation of power project. “Experts from the whole world are surprised by the pace of work on CPEC projects.”

He said the development of Gwadar is top priority of the government. “Construction of New Gwadar Airport and East Bay Expressway, the two significant projects, would ensure development of this port city.”

Planning minister further vowed to fast track implementation of hospital, technical institute and water supply project at Gwadar. Minister Iqbal further said steps are underway to include higher education commission’s initiative of linking 50 top local universities with Chinese universities. “This project would help in transfer of knowledge and experiences in different sectors, helping Pakistan to develop its academic curriculum on modern line to meet international standards,” he added.

He said long-term plan of CPEC would identify areas of cooperation between the two countries till 2030. “The project started from memorandum of understanding in 2013, turns as a biggest and flagship project of the world, wherein Pakistan has succeeded in implementation of infrastructure, energy and Gwadar related projects with the support of Chinese side.”  “Both the governments have made a conscious effort to focus on expanding the economic dimension of the relationship and bring it up at par with the excellent cooperation the two countries enjoy at the strategic and political level,” Secretary of Planning Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui said in a statement.

Siddiqui said CPEC entails greater connectivity and trade linkages between Pakistan and China through a network of road, rail, fibre optic cable, energy pipelines, industrial clusters and SEZs.  “All the political parties and provincial governments have openly expressed support to this mega project which would surely help a lot to CPEC.”

Planning secretary proposed to review decision of 6th joint cooperation committee and ensure joint working groups’ meeting to finalise agenda for 7th joint cooperation committee. Hassan Daud Butt, project director of CPEC also briefed the participants about the progress on CPEC projects.

Li Xuedong, deputy director general at National Development and Reform Commission China said industrial cooperation entered into a critical stage.  “The establishment of power plants and development of infrastructure are the prerequisites for industrial parks,” Xuedong said. “We need to have expert group to initiate planning of the parks keeping in view comparative advantages and other allied attractions for investors.”

Source: The News