Minister for Economic Affairs, Khusro Bakhtyar, is optimistic that the implementation of projects under the CPEC framework will be expedited.
Bakhtyar stated the joint cooperation committee meeting, which is scheduled later this month, will be extremely helpful for Pakistan’s balance of trade. He further added the implementation of pivotal socioeconomic, energy, transport, infrastructure, and SEZ projects will pick up the pace.
The minister, during a meeting with China’s newly appointed Ambassador, Nong Rong, said,
Agriculture is one of the key sectors of Pakistan’s economy. Pakistan and China should deepen and expand cooperation in the agriculture sector under CPEC umbrella to enhance productivity and value addition.
During the meeting, matters such as Pak-China economic relations, the COVID-19 struggle, CPEC, and matters of mutual interests were highlighted.
The minister expressed hope for Pakistan’s ties with China to strengthen beyond the Trade Belt. He commented on the strategic partnership of the two neighboring countries and the importance of maintaining a healthy geopolitical relationship, saying:
Pakistan and China are strategic partners, and both countries supported each other on the issues of their core interest.
CPEC kicked off five years ago, concentrating mainly on the construction of roads, motorways, and power plants to ensure energy security in the wake of massive power shortfall. The last few years have seen a series of power projects transform Pakistan into an energy-surplus destination from a power-deficient one.
SEZs are the next phase of development, after early harvest projects under the Pak-China Framework. The government expects to amass $1.3 billion worth of export revenue from industrial chemicals through establishing SEZs dedicated to biotechnology.
The second phase of industrial and agricultural cooperation has yet to be ascertained, with the debt burden on the economy often raising big questions.
Ambassador Nong said Pakistan-China relations would grow further under joint leadership. He conveyed China’s full support to the CPEC and concluded that Pakistan and China should further deepen cooperation at the bilateral and multilateral institutions.
In the first phase, a total of 1,544 km of roads were made operational, and a 1,456 km stretch is currently under construction. In the energy sector, 5,320 MW of electricity was added to the national grid, while progress on seven projects of 4,170 MW is nearing completion.
According to sources, additional projects of 2,844 MW are in the pipeline. Meanwhile, the cross-border optical fiber project, which stretches over 820 km linking Khunjerab to Rawalpindi, has already been completed.