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Pakistan and China expected to sign various agreements under CPEC’s second phase

Pakistan and China are likely to sign memoranda of understanding on various projects of second phase of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on April 26 during the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China, it is learnt. China is going to hold the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on April 25 in Beijing in which nearly 40 foreign governments and representatives from more than 100 countries would participate.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping would start a three-day visit on April 25 to attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Pakistan will have a key role in the conference because the CPEC is a flagship project of the Belt and Road initiative.

According to sources, chief ministers of the provinces, minister for planning, development and reform and high officials of other ministries including Pakistan Railways would also accompany Prime Minster Khan during his visit to China.

During this visit, Pakistan and China would sign MOUs and agreements on the projects of the second phase of the CPEC.

They said that in the second phase, scope of CPEC is being enhanced in the domains of social sector development and agriculture sector as both the sectors hold a huge potential of growth in Pakistan. They said that the government is interested to start pilot projects in these areas with the support of China on priority.

They said that China would give $1 billion grant to Pakistan for early harvest projects of socioeconomic development and agriculture sectors under the second phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. They said that China would provide this grant for early harvest and pilot projects during the next three years. Most of the projects relating to socioeconomic development include vocational training particularly in the provinces, capacity building of hospitals and pilot projects of agriculture sector.

When contacted Project Director /Coordination for CPEC Hassan Daud Butt told this correspondent that 13-member Chinese expert team had visited the provinces and discussed various projects with the provincial governments. He said that most of the projects would be launched in the provinces.

He said that the development projects of the second phase have been scrutinised and final decision has been taken after the approval of the Prime Minister. He said that a list of the projects of the second phase has been handed over the Chinese government.

Many ongoing projects under the CPEC would be completed in current year. Construction of Western Routes, ML-1 Pakistan Railway project and establishment of Special Economic Zones (SPZs) are major long-term projects under the second phase of CPEC.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar has said that the present government is focusing on developing the agriculture sector on modern lines to improve the livelihoods of small farmers and enhance its contribution in the national economy, noting that agriculture constitutes the largest sector of economy. He stated that in this regard agriculture cooperation with China will be enhanced under the CPEC framework.

The minister was talking to Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan who called on him here on Wednesday. Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan, Secretary National Food Security Dr. Muhammad Hashim Popalzai and Project Director CPEC Hassan Daud were also present in the meeting. The minister for planning said efforts are under way to initiate joint ventures with leading Chinese agriculture companies in various sectors of agriculture to enhance agricultural output and value addition of agricultural products for mutual benefit of both countries. He highlighted that there is a lot of scope for increasing cooperation between the countries, particularly in areas of livestock, fisheries, citrus, mango, rice, potatoes and horticulture.

Makhdum Khusro apprised that CPEC Business Advisory Council has been constituted which will have representation from leading companies dealing in various sectors including agriculture, and the purpose of which will be to identify new areas for future collaboration with China under CPEC.

During the meeting, deliverables in different areas of agriculture came under discussion. It was discussed that a memorandum of understanding on foot & mouth disease is also expected to be signed during the Prime Minister’s visit.

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