ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China resolved on Thursday to redouble efforts to tap full potential of the Gwadar port and free zone and to ensure that the local population fully benefits from the projects launched in various sectors.
Pakistani and Chinese officials held meetings of the two Joint Working Groups on Gwadar and Socio-Economic Development through video conferencing equipment, said a press release issued by the planning ministry.
One of the meetings underlined the need for finalising the Marketing and Investment Plan for Free Zone along with its implementation strategy. The meeting was informed that the plan would soon be submitted for consideration to the Cabinet Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The sixth session of the Joint Working Group on Gwadar was co-chaired by secretary for planning, development and special initiatives Abdul Aziz Uqaili and Ying Xiong, the director general of the National Development and Reforms Commission of China.
Meetings of joint working groups on port city and socioeconomic development held
The meeting reviewed the implementation of the CPEC projects in Gwadar and deliberated upon the future course of action with regard to development of Gwadar city, port and the free zone, said the press release.
Both the sides expressed satisfaction over steady progress made on various projects, including full operationalisation of the Gwadar port and its inclusion in the Afghan Transit Trade route; finalisation of the Smart Port City Master Plan; completion of the Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute; substantial progress on Eastbay Expressway; commencement of work on New Gwadar International Airport and the Pak-China Friendship Hospital.
The meeting noted that the project called Gwadar Free Zone Phase-1 had been successfully completed, while work on the bigger Phase-II, covering an area of 2,221 acres, had been started.
Representatives of several Chinese enterprises, including Zhejiang DRC, China Communication Construction Company, Zhejiang Seaport and Huazhang Technology, made presentations during the meeting on their planned investments in the Low Carbon Recycling Park, within the Gwadar Free Zone.
The Pakistani side assured the potential investors of full support and cooperation for their ventures.
The session noted that despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions, the projects in Gwadar were implemented at a steady pace.
The meeting also took note of various operational issues faced by the projects during the course of the year. It was noted that several issues had been resolved through intervention of relevant authorities. Both sides resolved to address any remaining issues on a priority basis.
The meeting was also apprised that the government of Pakistan was actively implementing various projects, in close collaboration with the provincial government, to ensure provision of all the necessary facilities in Gwadar. Such projects include linking Gwadar to the national electricity grid; provision of water to Gwadar city from nearby dams; establishment of the University of Gwadar and Gwadar Safe City project and certain other projects in the socio-economic domain.
Group on socioeconomic uplift
The third meeting of the Joint Working Group on Socio-Economic Development under CPEC was held under the co-chairmanship of Mr Uqaili and Deng Boqing, chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency, to review the progress made in current projects.
The meeting also deliberated on the potential new projects that could be launched to enhance cooperation in the areas concerned. Both the sides expressed satisfaction over steady progress made with regard to the first and second batches of projects despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
The convener on the Pakistani side thanked the government and people of China for their generous support to Pakistan for tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, especially the timely supply of vaccines. He also thanked the Chinese counterparts for their support and assistance for socioeconomic development.
The convener on the Chinese side reiterated China’s strong support for the people and government of Pakistan and stated that the “two iron brothers” had always helped and supported each other.
The Pakistani side shared the proposed third batch of projects for consideration of Chinese counterparts. The projects were finalised after due consultations with stakeholders, including all the provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.
It was decided that the bilateral cooperation and implementation mechanism would be enhanced by constituting sub-committees on both the sides.
Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2021