ISLAMABAD: The sixth meeting of the Joint Working Group on Industrial Cooperation between Pakistan and China held here in Islamabad on Friday reviewed progress on special economic zones of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and vowed to take forward in a pragmatic manner the ‘Framework Agreement’ the two countries signed in February.

Unlike previous JWG meetings, the sixth meeting witnessed active participation and presentations by the provincial National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in China to strengthen business-to-business (B2B) collaborations at the provincial levels between both countries.

NDRC DG Ying Xiong and Secretary of the Board of Investment Fareena Mazhar co-chaired the meeting where provincial NDRCs vowed to collaborate with Pakistan’s provincial BOIs for joint efforts to bring in meaningful foreign direct investment and strike B2B ventures. The Chinese side showed keen interest in the mining sector of Pakistan. China Geological Survey and Metallurgical Corporation of China presented their proposals for collaboration in the mining sector of Pakistan.

Sixth meeting of joint working group reviews progress on special economic zones

The Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation gave a detailed presentation highlighting the potential of the sector and possible investment opportunities for Chinese investors.

The BoI also presented a proposal for establishing a CPEC tower in Islamabad and a Special Economic Zone in the federal capital for government-to-government linkages. Ms Mazhar informed the meeting that development of the four special economic zones were steadily advancing and substantial progress has been achieved in this regard.

The BOI secretary pointed out Covid-19 pandemic had restricted both Pakistan and China to initiate the marketing work for the economic zones. It was proposed that the two countries could develop a mechanism for promoting the special zones through events in China as well as in other countries to encourage third country participation.

The Chinese side may encourage its enterprises to set up businesses in Pakistan.

Ms Mazhar said the BOI strongly felt that greater impetus must be generated in enhancing B2B and people-to-people linkages; to facilitate increased level of investment from Chinese enterprises , and to enhance industrial competitiveness of businesses in Pakistan; through technology transfer, world class managerial and industrial practices and skills transfer.

For B2B matchmaking, it was proposed, a unified online portal could also be developed mutually for data gathering of potential companies to form joint ventures. The BoI secretary also suggested effective utilization of the platform of Pakistan-China Business and Investment Forum (PCBIF), which was established jointly by the BOI, Chinese embassy and the All-Pakistan Chinese Enterprises’ Association, to facilitate and encourage matchmaking of businesses from both sides.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2022

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