Pakistan, China agree to boost industrial cooperation under CPEC

Updated 26 Aug 2020

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Bokhari said significant progress has been achieved on development and colonization of the SEZs in the last few months.  — AP/File
Bokhari said significant progress has been achieved on development and colonization of the SEZs in the last few months. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China on Tuesday agreed to elevate the memorandum of understanding on industrial cooperation to the framework agreement under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to realise the vision for development of special economic zones (SEZs).

Speaking at a consultative forum on draft framework agreement on industrial cooperation on Tuesday, Board of Investment Chairman Atif R. Bokhari said that the first phase of CPEC required leading role of the government, while the second phase requires a 180-degree shift in management and roles.

“It calls for enhanced role of industrialists, private sector, and business community, while the government’s role would only be that of a facilitator by devising effective policies, laws and efficient infrastructure, to facilitate business-to-business and people-to-people linkages”, Bokhari said.

Read: CPEC 2.0: full speed ahead

He explained that the draft framework agreement on industrial cooperation is being aligned with the long-term CPEC framework. “A world of opportunities will open up by setting the fundamentals of industrial cooperation under the CPEC and it is high time for all of us to tap the right opportunities at the right time,” he affirmed.

Bokhari said significant progress has been achieved on development and colonization of the SEZs in the last few months wherein four CPEC SEZs at Rashakai in Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa, Dhabeji in Sindh, M-3 Allama Iqbal in Punjab, and Bostan in Balochistan are now in advance stage of development.

The geographic proximity between China and Pakistan will allow these zones to foster economic interdependence for mutual economic advantage, he added.

The framework is being developed with a special focus to enhance industrial competitiveness of Pakistan, ensure technology transfer, relocate Chinese businesses and skill development and labour productivity.

The modus operandi of the cooperation would likely enhance business-to-business and project-to-project ties ensuring projectised mode of medium- and long-term projects in industrial cooperation, balance and modernise existing industry, make joint efforts to expedite SEZ development and promotion, seek technical and financial assistance from China, enhance production capacity, facilitate businesses by financial institutions from both sides and ensure joint marketing and media efforts to promote industrial cooperation and SEZs.

BOI Secretary Fareena Mazhar, while highlighting board’s role as lead agency for industrial cooperation under CPEC, shared the corridor’s journey and its future action plan, conceived for its second phase that includes development of SEZs, agricultural cooperation, relocation of Chinese industries into Pakistan, public private partnerships for business prospects and creation of vocational training and employment opportunities.

She said that Pakistan and China have agreed to elevate the MoU on industrial cooperation into a framework agreement focusing on SEZs development of SEZs and B2B joint ventures as core elements of industrial cooperation under CPEC. Serious efforts for provision of gas and electricity are underway to ensure these basic utilities are provided at zones, she said.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2020