» » » Setting up of special economic zones most important phase of #CPEC: Ahsan Iqbal

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform, Ahsan Iqbal has said that development of special economic zones is the most important phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which would prove as a milestone in relocation of Chinese industries and flourishing our local enterprises. 

He expressed these view while speaking to a high level 60-member Chinese delegation at Planning Commission, says a press release issued here on Tuesday. The delegation led by Li Xuedong, Deputy Director General, Department of International Affairs, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of the People’s Republic of China, comprises of senior officials from NDRC, National Railway Administration, Chinese investors, and representatives of China EXIM Bank and China Development Bank. 

Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that One Belt One Road Vision has connected Europe, Asia and Africa. “The CPEC, the flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative is helping to improve infrastructure and overcome power outages in the country, thus removing the main two bottlenecks, faced by Pakistan’s economy” Minister added. He said that the industrial cooperation between the all-weather friends, China and Pakistan, would help relocate Chinese industries, creating thousands of job opportunities, transfer of knowledge and expertise. 

Federal Minister said completion of CPEC first mega coal power plant at Sahiwal has set a new world record in fastest implementation of power project. “Experts from the whole world are surprised by the pace of work on CPEC projects,” he added. 

He said the development of Gwadar is top priority of the government. “Construction of New Gwadar Airport and East Bay Expressway, the two significant projects, would ensure development of this port city”. The minister further vowed to fast track implementation of hospital, technical institute and water supply project at Gwadar. 

Ahsan Iqbal highlighted the need of speedy completion of Gwadar city master plan for planned development of this international town, besides establishing linkages of Gwadar University with any reputed institute of China to impart knowledge in marine and maritime sectors. 

The minister for Planning further informed that steps are underway to include Higher Education Commission’s initiative of linking 50 top local universities with Chinese universities. “This project would help in transfer of knowledge and experiences in different sectors, helping Pakistan to develop its academic curriculum on modern line to meet international standards” he added. 

Minister further told Pakistan’s Railway Main Line-1 from Karachi to Peshawar up gradation project is likely to commence this year. “This mega project would support to build and upgrade this backbone of transport infrastructure in Pakistan” he added. 

Minister further appreciated Chinese government steps for signing CPEC long term. He said that long term plan of the CPEC would identify areas of cooperation between the two countries till 2030. 

Ahsan Iqbal said that the project started from MoU in 2013, turns as a biggest and flagship project of the world, wherein Pakistan has succeeded in implementation of infrastructure, energy and Gwadar related projects with the support of Chinese side. 

Li Xuedong Chinese told that basic aim of the visit is to discuss industrial cooperation, implementation of Gwadar projects and Pakistan Railway’s Up- gradation of Main Line-1 under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said that every possible effort will be made to ensure timely completion of all the CPEC projects. 

He appreciated Pakistani government particularly role and special interest of Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal for speedy execution of CPEC projects. 

Later on, Pakistan side led by Federal Secretary of Planning, Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui and Chinese side hold a meeting at Ministry of Planning to review progress on CPEC projects and preparations for 7th Joint Cooperation Committee. 

Siddiqui said that both governments have made a conscious effort to focus on expanding the economic dimension of the relationship and bring it up at par with the excellent cooperation the two countries enjoy at the strategic and political level. He further said that CPEC entails greater connectivity and trade linkages between Pakistan and China through a network of road, rail, fiber optic cable, energy pipelines, industrial clusters and SEZs. 

He further informed that all the political parties and provincial governments have openly expressed its support to this mega project which would surely help a lot to CPEC. He proposed to review decision of 6th Joint Cooperation Committee and ensure joint working groups meeting to finalize agenda for 7th JCC. Project Director CPEC Hassan Daud Butt has also briefed the participants about progress on CPEC projects. 

During their four day visit, the Chinese delegation will hold meetings with Pakistani leaders, business community and review the economic zones. The provincial governments will also brief the delegates about their SEZs and their investment plans. PR 

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