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China and Pakistan to sign various socioeconomic development projects under CPEC in April

A team of Chinese experts will come to Pakistan in the last week of February to discuss various projects relating to agriculture sector and socio-economic development under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

According to sources, China and Pakistan would sign various development projects under the CPEC in April 2019. They said that economic team of Pakistan was also negotiating financial matters with the Axiom Bank (import/export) of China for development of special economic zones (SEZs) in the country.

When contacted, Project Director/Coordination CPEC Hassan Daud Butt confirmed that a Chinese team was coming to Pakistan in the end of February to discuss projects relating to socio-economic development and agriculture sector. He said that for that purpose, the relevant ministries would share the details of the projects with China’s National Development Reforms Commission (NDRC).

When asked about the slowdown of the CPEC projects, he said Pakistan would discuss various projects with China under the CPEC in February and March. After discussion, it is expected that Pakistan and China would sign agreements on various projects in April. He said three to five projects would also be launched in less-developed areas particularly in Chitral.

Another source said that two sides were negotiating details on the implementation of the Rashakai special economic zone, one of the nine special economic zones prioritised under the CPEC framework. However, China has asked Pakistan to provide basic facilities of electricity, gas, infrastructure and development of land for establishment of industrial zones.

Meanwhile, Minister for Planning, Development & Reform Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar Tuesday said all-out efforts were being made to speed up industrialisation under the CPEC. The minister during a meeting with Chairman Board of Investment (BoI) Haroon Sharif said Pakistan and China together would shape industrialisation of the country (Pakistan). The meeting was also attended by Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan and Project Director CPEC Hasaan Daud.

The minister said that industrialisation was a key target for the short to medium term phase of the CPEC. A roadmap for industrial cooperation would be finalised with a focus to attract maximum foreign direct investment in Pakistan, he said. He said all formalities including an attractive incentive package to investors would be firmed up within three months. He also instructed to study regional special economic zones development models in order to offer a competitive regime to future investors.

He emphasised that big Chinese brands might be attracted to explore opportunities in Pakistan. The minister said it was decided to ensure hand-holding of the provincial SEZs to concerned provincial authorities to accrue maximum advantages. He also asked the BoI to organise an interactive session with stakeholders to take a final decision regarding industrial relocation.

It was decided that private investors would be encouraged for joint ventures; however, the main focus would be given to industries that can support import substitution or boost exports.

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