ISLAMABAD: A special committee of the Senate on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is meeting on Thursday (today) with a heavy agenda that includes a briefing on “the documents shared by the government with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)” on CPEC during its negotiations for a bailout package for the country.
The Senate special committee, headed by Senator Sherry Rehman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), is also set to receive briefings on a number of other important issues such as the progress made regarding the second stage of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China.
Pakistan and China had embarked on the new phase of CPEC by signing memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and socio-economic development and a new agreement on free trade during the second visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Beijing in April.
The new FTA, which was signed after negotiations spanning over seven years, is reportedly aimed at strengthening trade ties. Under the new FTA, China would open up 90 per cent of its market for Pakistani goods whereas Pakistan would share 65pc of its market with Chinese exports. This would also help in redressing, to a certain extent, the yawning trade imbalance between the two countries, which stood at $9.7 billion last year.
The next phase of CPEC includes newer areas like agriculture, industrial development and socio-economic uplift with livelihood projects. The first Special Economic Zone (SME), comprising 20 factories, is being set up in Rashakai, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. In the next stage, the Chinese are planning to cooperate with Pakistan for setting up of a heavy industry SEZ in Dhabeji (Sindh) and a hi-tech SEZ in Islamabad.
The projects in education, health, human resource development, poverty alleviation, agriculture, and water and irrigation sectors are being sponsored by the Chinese government and 27 projects have been identified by the two governments.
According to the agenda of the Senate committee meeting, the officials of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms are required to give a detailed briefing to the members on “the documents shared by the government with the IMF on CPEC and its financial uptakes and deficits in balance of payments”.
Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2019