Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Thursday did a press conference on the recent updates regarding the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) following the 10th session of the Joint Coordination Committee for the CPEC.
Khalid Mansoor, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on CPEC Affairs, was also present at the press conference.
Talking to the press Asad Umar said that the importance of CPEC for Pakistan and China both, has been increasing, and the overall scope of the projects under the bilateral agreements are increasing as well.
As a result, the leadership of both countries has directed their respective government teams to prioritize CPEC.
Minister said that CPEC holds high importance in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vision of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) initiative, thus today both sides, China, and Pakistan have reiterated their commitment to the corridor.
Both sides agreed that even though the ongoing pandemic had slowed down the economic progress in many countries of the world, and many lockdowns were imposed in both China and Pakistan, which are somewhat continuing even today, it was tried that the work on CPEC never stopped.
Asad Umar said that since the last JCC the world has changed a lot due to the impact of Covid-19, which has posed a great challenge to the world, perhaps 1st such challenge in a century, however, expressed satisfaction that both China and Pakistan deal with it effectively.
“It is a matter of satisfaction that both of our countries have been able to deal with the pandemic in an effective manner,” he said.
The minister noted that even though strict travel restrictions have been imposed, Chinese workers returned to Pakistan to resume their work on the projects.
“One of the most exciting decisions made today included the joint working group of Infomation Technology between two countries”, the federal minister said.
It is worth mentioning that 2/3rd of Pakistan’s population today is involved in Agriculture, but the future is of technology, and China is becoming a global leader in that respect.
“One such area of technology is 5G, where China is competing with the US and the other notable area is digital payments solutions,” he added.
Minister for Planning and Development reminded that Pakistan’s IT exports grew 47.4pc year-on-year, crossing $2 billion, thus it is another booming industry in Pakistan.
It is worth mentioning that the IT exports reached $2.12bn in 2020-21 as against $1.44bn in the preceding year, according to data released by Commerce Ministry in July 2021.
The second MoU was between China’s Ningbo Port and Pakistan’s Gwadar Port for CPEC. Another MoU has been signed for Karachi Coastal Development Plan under the Maritime Ministry along with a Chinese company named CRPC for the development of the Karachi Port facility.
Minister said that eight different agreements were signed for the agriculture sector as well, taking agreements to the next stage.
It is worth mentioning that speaking at the event earlier the federal minister had said that it was a matter of pride that phase-I had been completed successfully which was focused on the development of energy, communication, and infrastructure project while Phase-II was also successfully underway which offers a broader scope of cooperation.
This Phase is focused on accelerated industrial cooperation, trade, agriculture, and socio-economic development.
Discussions regarding the major projects in the infrastructure and energy sector under CPEC were discussed.
Another thing that was very pertinent in the discussions was security. As the CPEC is expanding, investments are expanding beyond industrial estates, raising the need for security. This is especially keeping in mind the recent Dasu incident, Umar said.
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Minister said that a specific cell has been made in MOFA to ensure the protection of foreigners working in the country, and a very thorough framework has been created to ensure the security of foreigners in Pakistan.
He added that projects like CPEC that are pushing Pakistan towards development face external physical and fifth-generation threats in terms of fake news.
Minister for Planning and Development also answered many queries regarding the CPEC.