ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will visit China in the first week of next month to join formal launching of the second phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC-II).

A source in the Prime Minister’s Office told Dawn that PM Shehbaz was scheduled to leave for China on June 4, but the date of visit could slightly be changed.

Infrastructure and energy projects were part of the CPEC’s first phase. In CPEC-II, both countries will focus on agriculture, Main Line-I of Pakistan Railways, businessmen-to-businessmen deals and realignment of Karakorum Highway (KKH) etc.

While presiding over a meeting of representatives of the Chinese companies, the prime minister said that Pakistan wanted to benefit from Chinese experiences to promote its IT sector and to boost exports.

Ahsan Iqbal appreciates Chinese leadership’s role for upgrading second phase of CPEC with the inclusion of new corridors

“China has an important role in Pakistan’s development. It has always helped Pakistan in difficult times for which the entire nation, including me, is grateful to the Chinese leadership and the people,” the PM said.

He assured the Chinese firms that security and protection of Chinese workers and citizens was the top priority of the government.

“The government has taken all possible measures to ensure foolproof security of the Chinese citizens in Pakistan,” he told the meeting, adding that a comprehensive plan had been prepared in this regard.

Mr Sharif said that Pakistan was an agriculture country and it wanted to utilise China’s modern technology in this sector.

He invited Chinese companies to invest in Pakistan’s electric, hybrid auto sector and other sectors.

JCC meeting

In a related development, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal and China’s Vice Chairman of National Development Reform Commission Li Chunlin co-chaired a meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), adds APP.

In the meeting, the Pakistan side appreciated the vision of Chinese leadership to upgrade the second phase of CPEC with the inclusion of new corridors.

Speaking at the JCC meeting, Mr Iqbal said: “We are ready to work with NDRC to finalise the scope and implementation plan on these corridors.”

The minister said that last year China’s Vice Premier He Lifeng unveiled five new corridors proposed by President Xi Jinping, including Growth Corridor, Livelihood Enhancing Corridor, Innovation Corridor, Green Corridor, and Opening Up/Regional Connectivity Corridor.

Mr Iqbal said Gwadar Port had been made operational and several other projects completed. “Now is the time to attract investors and manufacturers to populate the Special Economic Zones (SEZs), develop Gwadar as a business district, and create high-quality tourist resorts in Gwadar. To this end, we propose signing of an MoU to promote cooperation in these areas,” he said.

He said the second phase of CPEC had already begun, but much work remained to ensure its success. “We are progressing on developing four priority SEZs, including Rashakai SEZ, Allama Iqbal Industrial City, Dhabeji SEZ, and Bostan SEZ. But we need to replicate the Chinese experience in this area,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2024

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