PM Khan’s China visit to further strengthen bilateral ties, economic cooperation: Khusro

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19 Chinese companies set to invest in Gwadar

Zubair Qureshi
Islamabad

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s upcoming visit to China would further bolster bilateral trade and economic ties between the two all weather friends and during the visit expansion of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework including cooperation in agriculture, industrial and socioeconomic sectors would be discussed.Federal Minister for Planning & Reform Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar said this while addressing a news conference Sunday on the eve of Prime Minister Khan’s visit to China.
Khusro Bakhtyar said China was a close and strategic partner of Pakistan and bilateral partnership between the two countries would continue to touch new heights in future.
It is in this backdrop that Prime Minister Imran Khan is visiting China to further promote bilateral trade and commerce exchange, he said.
Dispelling reports that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects have hit a snag Khusro Bakhtiar emphasized that all CPEC projects were intact and would be completed as per schedule.
The Planning Minister said CPEC is not only a joint venture between Pakistan and China, but also an instrument of connectivity among Central Asia, Afghanistan, and all the way to Russia. Speaking about development in energy and infrastructure, Khusro Bakhtiar said in energy sector, projects of about 4,300 Megawatt are under construction and those of 2,500 Megwatt are under planning.
He said the concessional agreement of 2016 was undertaken due to which 19 Chinese companies are set to invest in Gwadar.
Besides, a project of 300 Megwatt of electricity has already been completed in Gwadar, while grid connectivity is being ensured there to provide uninterrupted power supply, said the minister.
He said Prime Minister Khan inaugurated Gwadar airport in March this year and “we have also finalized the Gwadar Master Plan with the Balochistan government.”
Regarding energy requirement in Pakistan Khusro Bakhtiar said efforts were being made for affordable electricity to strengthen economy.
He said a number of projects and MoUs would be signed during the prime minister’s visit to China including affordable electricity, constructing Bunji Dam with a capacity of 7,000 Megawatts of electricity.
About steel sector, the Minister said Pakistan’s current import bill in scrap and steel sector stood at US $ 2 billion and the government’s entire focus was on enhancing domestic production to curtail the import bill in this sector. He said Pakistan’s total steel production is about four million tons, whereas its requirement is about nine million tons which will likely to increase as the economy grows.
Keeping in view all these factors, he said, we will seek China’s cooperation in enhancing capacity of Pakistan Steel Mills from existing 1 million tons to 3 million tons to meet the future demand of the commodity.
He said this will certainly reduce Pakistan’s import bill in the steel sector. About oil and gas sector, Khusro Bakhtiar said we would negotiate with the Chinese side to enhance capacity of Pakistan’s refineries to reduce our import bill up to uw $ 1.5 billion in this field. In addition, we are going to propose a land based Liquefied Natural Gas project, which will enhance gas production capacity upto one billion cubic feet, he said.
Khusro Bakhtiar said the government was trying to complete the eastern corridor of CPEC by the end of this year and we are also working on the western route. Khusro Bakhtiar also spoke about the ML-1 project, which has been lying in the cold storage for last five years. The project will be formally taken up with Chinese authorities to revamp railways network in Pakistan. Regarding agriculture, the Minister said we are going to formally negotiate a comprehensive framework in agriculture sector, proposing projects costing US $200 million under business to business cooperation.
He said fisheries and shrimp farming will also be developed along the coastal belt under this framework.
Highlighting the industry incentives, the Minister said the government was focusing on making the special economic zones functional and a business council has been formed to ensure joint ventures with China to increase Pakistan’s industrial landscape.
He stressed the need on technology transfer from China to Pakistan.
He said seven pilot projects were being undertaken in all the four provinces, federal capital, Azad Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan. Mega progress is underway in every avenue under the umbrella of CPEC.
He said joint working group of all sectors, including energy, infrastructure, industrial cooperation, agriculture, Gwadar, and transportation will meet in October, while CPEC’s Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting is expected in November this year.

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