ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China initiated consultation on the ‘framework agreement’ for industrial cooperation to develop B2B joint ventures, realise Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and industrialisation under the second phase of CPEC, officials said on Tuesday.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has already given approval to it. After consultation, both the countries will formally sign this framework agreement,” a senior official said.
On Tuesday, representatives from both the countries held the fifth meeting of Joint Working Group (JWG) on industrial cooperation under CPEC through video conference.
The Chinese side appreciated the efforts undertaken by Pakistan to elevate the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) on industrial cooperation into a Framework for an increased cooperation under CPEC and agreed to continue consultation for its signing at the earliest. They also hailed the idea of joint industrial diagnostic studies followed by an action plan.
Khashih-ur-Rehman, Additional Secretary/Executive Director General, Board of Investment (BOI) and Ying Xiong, Director General, National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC), China co-chaired the meeting. Representatives from line ministries, provincial governments, and embassies attended the meeting.
Rehman remarked that elevation of the MoU on IC (Industrial Cooperation) between Pakistan and China into a comprehensive framework would create new avenues for strengthening industrial cooperation under CPEC which is also open to third party participation.
Cooperation would likely enhance B2B and project to project (P2P) ties, balance and modernise existing industry, expedite SEZs development and promotion, seek technical and financial assistance from China, increase production capacity, and facilitate businesses with support of financial institutions from both sides, etc, he added.
Asim Ayub, Project Director of Project Management Unit (PMUC-CPEC-ICDP) on Industrial Cooperation of BoI, appreciated the Chinese side for accepting the Draft Framework Agreement shared by the Pakistani side in early November 2020.
Early signing of the Framework Agreement on IC would help both sides achieve maximum objectives of CPEC in line with its long-term Plan, Ayub said, adding that immense efforts had been ensured by Pakistani to devise the Draft Framework, taking all the provinces and other stakeholders on board and final approval of the Honorable Prime Minister was also obtained accordingly.
He stressed a Framework Agreement was the need of the hour for a measurable impact with regards to Industrial Cooperation, SEZs, Business to Business (B2B) and People to People (P2P) collaboration.
Ayub said Pakistan highly regarded the idea of Industrial Diagnosis by the Chinese side and extended its highest support to the group of experts from CIECC for the Textile Industrial Diagnosis last year. However, he was of the view that the Industrial Diagnosis needed to be carried out in a joint manner involving experts from both sides who might submit the Diagnosis Report to the JWG along with an Action Plan that would be imperative for the respective industrial sector.
The meeting also discussed progress made on Rashakai, Dhabeji, Alama Iqbal Industrial City, and Bostan SEZs under the CPEC, the revival project of Pakistan Steel Mill, China Pakistan Young Workers Exchange and Cooperation, and Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone.