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Pakistan, China agree to make 2019 a year of economic cooperation under CPEC

Source: The News

Date: 15th Jan, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Chinese Ambassador in Islamabad Yao Jing called on Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar on Tuesday.

During the meeting, matters of mutual interest including progress on China Pakistan Economic Corridor projects came under discussion.

Ambassador Yao Jing appreciated that 8th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting held successfully in a cordial atmosphere where all deliverables were achieved and the scope of the cooperation was expanded to new avenues.

Both sides agreed to expedite work by promoting joint ventures and export led growth under CPEC by declaring 2019 as “year of industrial, socioeconomic and agriculture cooperation”.

Minister for Planning, Development & Reform, Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar said that the MoU on Industrial Cooperation, signed during 8th JCC, provides a framework to promote communication on key industries such as textile, petro-chemical and iron & steel, encourages Chinese investors to relocate and explore opportunities of investment in Pakistan.

The minister highlighted that Pakistan can become an ideal destination for investment in different sectors. He said that Ministry of Planning would facilitate Chinese investors looking for opportunities under CPEC and create a pull effect.

He highlighted that government is working on policies that will improve ease of doing business in early time frame. Minister said that the first meeting of the JWG on Socio economic development was a major milestone and the action plan discussed therein will support uplift of less developed area.

Pakistan side has already forwarded invitation letter to China for visit of the expert team.

“Both side to work out for speedy implementation of initiatives in already identified six areas including agriculture, education, medical treatment, poverty alleviation, water supply and vocational training projects” he intimated.

The minister hoped that JWG on Agriculture meeting, scheduled for 15th February this year, would provide an opportunity to broaden CPEC Cooperation.

He emphasized that Chinese investors should explore investment opportunities in agriculture sector of Pakistan for input supplies as well as food production, processing, logistics, marketing and exports in a vertically integrated way on their own or in joint ventures (B2B) with Pakistani companies.

Both sides agreed to ensure that this year Gwadar Projects such as New International Airport, Hospital and Vocational Institutes will hit ground within three months as these projects are beneficial for the local population and will therefore gain the support and trust of the local population.

 Ambassador Yao Jing appreciated the efforts of Government of Pakistan for facilitating Chinese investors and informed that a large number of Chinese investors would visit Pakistan soon that would further strengthen the bonds of economic and bilateral cooperation.

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CPEC a blessing for both Pakistan and China

Source: China Daily

Date: 15th Jan, 2019

Author: Yasir Masood

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has emerged as a boon both for Pakistan and China. And not surprisingly, the peoples of the two countries have great expectations from the CPEC in terms of economic growth and regional development.

True, the provincial government of Balochistan in Pakistan has voiced concerns over the CPEC, saying its share of CPEC investment is very low. But the Pakistani planning, development and reform minister’s recent allocation of $1 billion for social development in Balochistan has assuaged those concerns.

To further redress Balochistan’s grievances, the Pakistani finance minister said industrialization would be expedited in Balochistan, in order to alleviate poverty and improve the living standards of the local people.

Gwadar can help boost Balochistan economy

Balochistan, which has a population of more than 12 million, is a crucial factor for the CPEC because the Gwadar port is situated there. The province covers 347,190 square kilometers, comprising about 44 percent of the total area of Pakistan. It may be a dry and arid region, but in terms of natural resources, it is Pakistan’s richest province. Still, more than 53 percent of the people in Balochistan live below the poverty line, and the province has a poor literacy rate of about 29 percent, and an unemployment rate of almost 33 percent.

Despite being rich in natural resources, Balochistan lacks both skilled and unskilled workers, as well as the necessary capital to build an industrial base to achieve the much-wanted economic breakthrough to lift the poor out of poverty and improve their living standards.

So what measures should be taken to turn around the fortunes of Balochistan?

To begin with, the CPEC has the potential to change the situation thanks to the eagerness of the Chinese government and enterprises to invest in Balochistan, especially in Gwadar port, road connectivity projects and industrial zones. Within a few years, the CPEC’s projects would facilitate massive economic activities, which would create jobs and help proliferate businesses that in turn would improve the living standards to the local people.

Gateway to Central Asia and the Persian Gulf

Gwadar is situated on an isthmus in the Arabian Sea on the southwestern coast of Pakistan. As such, it is a gateway to both the Persian Gulf and Central Asian countries, which would eventually connect 64 countries in Asia and Europe. No wonder it has been called the “standalone pillar” of the CPEC-and the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

With its perfect geographical location, economic and geostrategic importance, Gwadar has all the features to transform into a regional hub of trade and transport, and an international seaport. The proposed planning and development term for Gwadar is from 2017 to 2050, with the short-term plan being between 2017 and 2025, the medium-term between 2026 and 2035, and the long-term between 2036 and 2050.

According to the Pakistani government’s plans, Gwadar port will further flourish with the “blue economy” through committed spending of more than $824 million on 12 projects. And Saudi Arabia has promised to spend another $6-10 billion in the proposed Gwadar Oil City project and petrochemical chain to be developed under the CPEC.

As for road connectivity, some roads have already been built while others are in the pipeline. China has also vowed to build a 1,320-megawatt coal power plant in Gwadar by 2020 at a cost of $1.9 billion, and proposed to build a 300-megawatt coal-fired plant.

Potential of becoming a world tourist site

Balochistan has an unexplored seacoast with the potential of emerging as a global tourist attraction, which would attract bulk foreign direct investment. Balochistan’s mineral resources are lying untapped for want of capital while some exposed mineral deposits are wasted because of “rat-hole” mining.

According to primary geological surveys, the region could have deposits of rare earth, precious and semi-precious metals, industrial minerals and a variety of stones including onyx, which can provide a huge base for setting up processing and manufacturing plants to produce export-quality value-added products.

Despite some grievances of the people of Balochistan, the construction of Gwadar port and infrastructure facilities such as road networks would boost the local economy and thus improve the living standards of the people not only in the province but also elsewhere in Pakistan. It is important here to emphasize that there is a consensus among all the stakeholders of the CPEC on the construction of the Gwadar port.

However, it is not unnatural that some people-either because of their naivety or due to their lack of understanding about the results-would raise questions on the need for a colossal economic project such as the CPEC.

CPEC and BRI face external opposition

The CPEC and the Belt and Road Initiative face opposition also because some external forces are misleading some people into believing the projects won’t do them any good, because they don’t want to see the Gwadar project completed. But the governments of Pakistan and China, media outlets, civil society, think tanks and academics have been quashing such misleading narratives.

The Pakistani government is also keen to provide a level playing field for the local business community by implementing necessary reforms in taxation to develop the region. Still, immediate interventions by the government would help a great deal to dispel the fears of local businesses. Also, timely reforms in different sectors coupled with the acceleration in CPEC projects would assuage the fears of local businesses and attract more international investment.

After the meeting of the 8th Joint Cooperation Committee of the CPEC in Beijing on Dec 20, when the Pakistani planning, development and reform minister announced the allocation of $1 billion development fund for Balochistan, the Chinese government said it was committed to expediting work on Gwadar international airport, and establishing vocational and technical training centers for the white-and blue-collar workers in the region.

At the training centers, the local workers can hone their respective skills, acquire management skills, learn to take capacity building measures, and explore agricultural and remedial measures to overcome the local challenges so as to ensure “all-inclusive” and “all-around” economic development.

Many countries eager to invest in Gwadar

Five years on the CPEC has given Pakistan so much leverage on the economic front that countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are eager to invest in Gwadar and elsewhere in Pakistan. And countries such as Malaysia, Turkey, Russia, and Central Asian and European states are looking forward to investing in the CPEC.

But people in Balochistan should realize that economic projects take time to bear fruits, so they must be patient and stay united. They should also know that the CPEC umbrella, which covers the Gwadar project, alone has the potential to turn Balochistan into an economic success story for Pakistan.

It is also important to emphasize that the malicious propaganda of some external forces that are using Balochistan’s “depravity” to prompt some local people to question the CPEC’s positive effects must be foiled both by the Pakistani and Chinese governments. The Pakistani government must also strategize a mass media campaign to educate the people by highlighting the eventual benefits of the CPEC and emphasizing the need for a peaceful and prosperous Balochistan without which the CPEC’s “all-inclusive” slogan may lose its substance.

The author is working as a Deputy Director Media and Publications at CPEC-Centre of Excellence, Islamabad. He is also an Academician and a TV analyst of CPEC and International Relations.

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CPEC: govt seeks more joint ventures

Source: Dawn

Date: 14th Jan,2019

Author: Khaleeq Kiani

China and Pakistan have made strides — particularly in electricity and infrastructure projects — in the first three-year phase of their cooperation under the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Both countries have had good and not-so-good experiences and are learning about each other’s strengths and deficiencies as they try to build upon lessons learnt.

At the conclusion of the recently held eighth meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), they agreed to conduct at least five in-depth sector studies for future investment cooperation under the framework as Islamabad pursues more financial support and Beijing seeks increased facilitation, improved security and a smooth repayment mechanism. In addition, “both sides agreed to make joint efforts to improve the overall media environment for CPEC cooperation”.

Pakistan made a formal request to the JCC — the highest decision-making body on the CPEC — for “more grant, investment, joint ventures and concessional loan arrangements to strengthen and fast track” transport infrastructure, industrial cooperation and socio-economic development. Beijing is annoyed at the Sindh government for slow progress on Karachi Circular Railway, which it considers critical for the city’s prosperity

China’s focus during the meeting that ended on Dec 20 was more on putting in place a mechanism that ensures smooth repayments given Pakistan’s financial constraints. It expects Islamabad to further strengthen the security structure and take targeted measures to reduce the threat of terrorism by speeding up the building and deployment of Special Security Division-South. Beijing is also pushing more vigorously for the removal of irritants in the implementation of existing projects.

Led jointly by Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, and Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, minister for planning, development reforms, meeting participants appreciated that the CPEC had achieved important milestones of early-harvest projects (EHP) and was now entering a new development stage.

The in-depth studies will be on Pakistan’s power market, a cascade study for hydropower projects all along the Jhelum River, optimisation of overall energy mix, an oil and gas industry development plan and a five-year action plan for cooperation on the highway between China and Pakistan as part of the joint traffic density study.

“(The) results of a joint study on power market of Pakistan will be fundamental for deciding the next step of energy cooperation.” The working on the study has just begun. Pakistan has committed to putting into operation all transmission lines required for the evacuation of energy well before CPEC projects achieve commercial operations to avoid penalties.

The payment of outstanding tariffs for the operational energy projects is a source of irritation for China. The two sides agreed to have scientific planning and amicable negotiations to address the issues arising from energy cooperation and create a common panel under the joint working group on energy for monthly formal and informal communications and consultations.

Pakistan promised a timely recovery of bills from consumers as part of the ongoing campaign to reduce line losses and improve collection through reforms and new technology. But Pakistan also wanted Chinese technical support with respect to technology. A comprehensive technical study will also be carried out to increase the production capacity of the surface mine in the Thar coalfield.

Pakistan has demanded that a major 1,320-megawatt Rahimyar Khan project under CPEC be scrapped on the ground that its next-stage priority was using domestic sources of energy. Hence, the need for maximum benefits from the Jhelum River flows by optimising the combined operation of all cascade projects there.

On the industrial side, China asked Pakistan that the Board of Investment should act as lead agency for industrial development and ensure land, energy, taxation, customs, law and other services from the relevant departments to deal with land prices, park development models and infrastructure services.

Rashakai in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dhabeji in Thatta and M3 in Faisalabad have been selected as special industrial zones for the first phase of development. They will promote Chinese investments in key industries, like textile, petro-chemical and iron and steel.

In infrastructure, both sides are happy with the progress on two big projects: $8.2 billion Mainline (ML-1) from Karachi to Khyber and $2bn Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) besides Eastbay Expressway Gwadar and security arrangements for them. Pakistan has promised to ensure timely land acquisition and demolition for the project implementation.

The preliminary design of ML-1 will be ready this month. The project will be implemented in line with the framework agreement signed in May 2017. This means China will provide up to 85 per cent of the project cost as a loan as opposed to a “build-operate-transfer” model proposed by the PTI government to shift financial responsibility on to the private sector and keep government loans on the lower side.

Beijing is annoyed about slow progress on KCR by the provincial government despite the project being critical and feasible for the growth and prosperity of the country’s largest city. Mass transit projects for Quetta and Peshawar have been put on the back burner for the time being because of a lack of preparedness. These will be taken up once their PC-1s are approved by the relevant government forums.

Noting full operational capability of the Gwadar Port, the two sides agreed to continuously pay high attention to it. Weekly container liner services are calling the port as coal trans-shipment and clinker export take place. The JCC appreciated progress on the Gwadar Free Zone. It agreed to jointly make more efforts to attract qualified companies to invest in the area.

Pakistan was required to provide agreed tax and tariff mechanisms to create a good investment environment leading to the next phase. The two sides have failed so far to finalise the Gwadar Smart City Master Plan, but promised to hold the groundbreaking ceremony for the New Gwadar International Port before March 2019.

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Learning from China

Source: Dawn

Date: 11th January 2019

Writer: Zahid Hussain

PRIME Minister Imran Khan is fascinated by China’s miraculous feat of lifting 800 million ­people from poverty — and he seeks to emulate that achievement. Then again, who does not? Every speech of his, whether at home or abroad, is invariably laced with profuse praise of the ­emerging superpower. But it seems that he has ­little understanding of how it happened.

The rise of China is surely an amazing story, and its record in poverty reduction is without parallel in human history. It may not be possible for other countries to emulate the Chinese dream, yet there are lessons to learn from the country’s Great Leap Forward. The transformation of a country with around one fifth of the world’s population could not have come without the Communist Revolution in 1949 that destroyed the regressive social structure, thereby paving the way for a second revolution which led to phenomenal economic growth.

Since the initiation of China’s reform and opening-up in 1978, it has achieved an annual average 9.5 per cent growth rate, increasing almost 35 times in size within the last four decades. There is no precedent in history of such sustained economic growth. This could not have been possible without political stability, a visionary leadership and strong institutions of the state.

Our prime minister must realise that societal transformation requires clear vision.

It was the second stage of the revolution headed by Deng Xiaoping, who was also one the leaders of the 1949 revolution, that led to the building of modern China. The principles enunciated by Deng guided Chinese policy since the 1980s. According to him, there are three criteria to judge whether or not a political system or policy is suitable or correct for a country, namely; is it beneficial for political stability, economic development and living standards? If it is for all three, then it is a good system or policy.

With its phenomenal scale of economic growth, China also focused on improving the lives of ordinary Chinese people. The enormous improvement in living standards is, therefore, the most important achievement China has made since the reform and opening-up. For a country with huge numbers of poor people streaming into its cities, many ­living initially in conditions of abject misery, this has been an extraordinary success.

Other factors that contributed to China’s economic and social development are the massive investments it made on education and population control. For almost four decades, China strictly implemented a one-child policy that had helped the country achieve its anti-poverty drive. This policy has now been made more flexible to meet the demands of an expanding economy.

More importantly, successive Chinese leaders recognised that economic development and political stability were intertwined. While its entire focus had been on economic development, China has kept itself out of outside conflicts and avoided confrontation despite provocations. It has kept a relatively low profile, notwithstanding its position as a superpower.

When Imran Khan says that he wants to learn from China, he should understand that such ­societal transformation can only occur when one has a clear vision and the will to make tough decisions. It is indeed commendable that the PTI ­government places greater emphasis on human development, but the welfare of the people also depends on political stability and economic ­development. Catchy mantras alone will not take this country out of its current predicament.

Sure, Pakistan has a different system of government and there is no revolutionary party at the helm, but it is not difficult to implement some radical reforms to put the economy on the track of sustainable growth. There is also need for change in existing social and economic structures that are the biggest obstacles to the country’s transformation. But, notwithstanding Imran Khan’s grand idea of establishing ‘Naya Pakistan’, the PTI remains a party with no clear strategy for change. Almost five months into power, the government is still unable to set a clear direction.

There appears to be systemic failure in this country. While the PTI government is drifting without vision or purpose, growing political instability has rendered the system dysfunctional. One cannot hope getting the economy off the ground, let alone fighting poverty, in this environment of political confrontation. The country is not expected to move forward while depending on the financial support of friendly countries. It is ­disgraceful the way that bailout packages from Saudi Arabia and the UAE are being portrayed as diplomatic successes. In the absence of any clear agenda for reform, these kinds of temporary relief could become liabilities, further dragging the economy down.

There is as yet no indication that the government is prepared to change its confrontationist policy. More alarming is that it does not have any clear strategy to deal with the challenges it faces. Undoubtedly, corruption is a serious problem, but the government seems to only focus on this one issue. Imran Khan’s claim that it is the main cause of all economic and political ills is exaggerated. The senseless campaign has increased economic and political uncertainty, making it more difficult to carry out any reform. Imran Khan often cites China’s latest campaign against corruption. But what he has failed to understand is that China has been able to effectively counter the menace after it had consolidated its economy.

Instead of learning from China how it emerged as an economic superpower in such a short span of time, Imran Khan has superficially picked some aspects of its history to point to. A major factor that has caused Pakistan’s economic and political slide is the absence of a long-term vision for ­development and social change.

China’s model cannot be emulated, but one can, at least, learn some lessons from its success. Poverty eradication, which Imran Khan appears so fascinated with, did not come without economic development and social reform. The establishment of shelter homes for the homeless is indeed a ­positive step, but it cannot address the basic problem behind rampant poverty, unemployment and social backwardness.

The writer is an author and journalist.
zhussain100@yahoo.com
Twitter: @hidhussain

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Inconsistent policies keep Chinese investors at bay: envoy

Source: DAWN

Date: 10th Jan, 2019

LAHORE: Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing says that inconsistent trade policies, high ratio of taxes and some other issues are reasons for the presence of fewer Chinese investors in Pakistan.

“The main reasons behind fewer Chinese investors in Pakistan are poor trade policies, high taxes, no tax incentives and lack of business-friendly environment,” a local news channel quoted the ambassador as having said while speaking to businessmen at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Wednesday.

“Your policies lack consistency, keeping investors from China and elsewhere at bay,” he responded when the business community asked why Chinese companies, after relocating their businesses from the United States, were preferring investment in other countries, including Cambodia and India, instead of Pakistan that was already executing several projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Yao says while PML-N govt paid full attention to Gwadar port, infrastructure and energy projects, it neglected completion of special economic zones

The ambassador said that under the CPEC, projects relating to the Gwadar port, infrastructure, energy and special economic zones (SEZs) were to be completed.

“Though the outgoing PML-N government paid full attention to the Gwadar port, infrastructure and energy projects, it neglected completion of the SEZs. Since there are no SEZs too, how Chinese investors can make investments,” he said.

Under the CPEC, Mr Yao said, the SEZs should be given priority because they would boost joint ventures, specifically in manufacturing and socio-economic sectors of the country.

“In SEZs and joint venture schemes, 70-80 per cent priority would be given to Pakistan shares and exports of Pakistan would increase by 70-80pc,” he maintained. He also revealed that the CPEC would soon be opened to the world for investment.

The Chinese envoy said Pakistan was required to make its trade policies better, besides bringing down ratio of taxes and duties and making its products competitive. “Improvement of competitiveness will help your country make trade balanced.”

He praised the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government for having export-oriented vision. “The new government has an export-oriented vision and looks determined to resolve various issues,” the ambassador said.

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U.S. Pushes China on Promises After ‘In-Depth’ Trade Meetings

Source: Bloomberg

Date: 9th January 2019

The Trump administration is pushing for a way to make sure China delivers on its commitments in any deal the two nations reach to defuse a trade war that has roiled financial markets and dimmed the outlook for global growth.

The U.S. wrapped up three days of mid-level talks with China in Beijing on Wednesday, noting a commitment by President Xi Jinping’s government to buy more U.S. agricultural goods, energy and manufactured products. For its part, China said the meetings were “extensive, in-depth and detailed,” and laid the foundation for a resolution of the conflict.

The office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said it wants any deal to include “ongoing verification and effective enforcement” and the U.S. will decide on next steps after officials report back to Washington.

 China’s Ministry of Commerce on Thursday said the two sides “implemented the consensus” reached by the two presidents in earlier talks, and discussed both trade and structural issues in the meetings.

Investors welcomed signs of optimism from the talks. Stocks rose globally after the two economic powers appeared to inch closer to an agreement, with the S&P 500 Index rising for a fourth day to the highest in almost a month.

The U.S. push for enforceable targets in a deal underscores the challenge of reaching a lasting truce. President Donald Trump and his deputies have criticized China for failing to live up to past promises, including a pledge to promptly open up the Asian nation’s economy to more trade and investment after it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Trump and Xi have given their officials until March 1 to reach an accord on “structural changes” to China’s economy on issues such as the forced transfer of American technology, intellectual-property rights, and non-tariff barriers. It’s a tight window in which to nail down deep changes to China’s economic model, some of which past U.S. administrations advocated for years and U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle support.

A group representing American companies doing business in China welcomed the “substantive discussions,” but stressed the need to work out key details. “Progress should include a mechanism for the removal of tariffs and measurable, commercially meaningful outcomes,” the U.S.-China Business Council said in a statement. The U.S. and China have slapped a tariffs on a combined $360 billion in each other’s imports since July.

The USTR statement didn’t say whether progress had been achieved on its main concerns.

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8th JCC meeting: ‘Missing paperwork’ delays CPEC mass transit schemes

Source: Express Tribune

Date: 9th Jan, 2019

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan and China could not make any breakthrough on mega mass transit and infrastructure projects during the 8th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting due to Islamabad’s inability to timely complete paperwork of these multibillion dollars schemes.

The status quo remained on $8.2 billion mainline (ML-1) project of Pakistan Railways, $2 billion Karachi Circular Railways, mass transit schemes of Quetta and Peshawar and five small road projects, according to signed minutes of the 8th JCC meeting. The JCC is the highest decision making body of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that met last month in Beijing after one year.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission Vice Chairman Ninglizhe and Pakistan’s Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar co-chaired the JCC meeting.

China has declared the $2 billion Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project ‘technically feasible’ and important for ‘growth and prosperity’ for Pakistan’s largest commercial hub. But Pakistani authorities failed to fulfill the procedural requirements.

“The Chinese side noted the importance of the KCR project for growth and prosperity of Karachi, presented that more endeavours shall be taken to facilitate the KCR project as soon as possible since it’s technically feasible,” said minutes of the JCC.

Some government officials told The Express Tribune that in October last year the Centre raised certain queries on Sindh government’s request for provision of sovereign guarantees but no reply has been received from the provincial government.

The Planning Ministry spokesman on CPEC affairs Hassan Daud Butt did not comment as to why no breakthrough was achieved on mass transit and infrastructure projects during the 8th JCC.

There was a hope before the JCC that some progress could be made on the multibillion dollar ML-I project of Pakistan Railway. However, the minutes said: “The JCC was satisfied with the progress of the preliminary design review of the strategic project of the ML-1 and two sides agreed that the result of the preliminary design shall be completed by January 2019”.

Both the sides have been frequently missing the deadlines on completion of the preliminary design of the strategically important project. But the 8th JCC has permanently settled the question of the financing mode of minimum $8.2 billion project.

According to the minutes, the ML-I “project should be implemented in line with the Framework Agreement signed in May 2017.”

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government wanted to explore possibility of completing the ML-I project on build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis to shift financial risks of the multibillion-dollar railway project to the contractors.

According to the framework agreement for the ML-I, China will provide 85% of the project cost as a concessionary loan. The project has been declared strategically important by both the countries.

The ML-I project has a total length of 1,872 kilometres. The project’s initial cost of $8.2 billion was based on a joint feasibility study, which was not backed by a technical design study.

Mass transit schemes

Pakistani authorities could not prepare the feasibility studies of Quetta mass transit scheme and greater Peshawar mass transit circular rail project despite the fact that both the sides agreed to include these schemes in the CPEC framework about two years ago.

“The Chinese side agreed that Quetta mass transit and greater Peshawar mass transit circular rail project shall be taken into consideration when there conditions are all mature and agreed that after approval of PC-I these projects shall be submitted to the Joint Working Group on Transport Infrastructure as soon as possible.”

But the JCC expressed appreciation for the signing and implementation of Five-Year for Technical Cooperation on Highway between China and Pakistan (2018-2022). Both sides agreed to jointly conduct traffic destiny study under the action plan.

Both the parties agreed to work jointly for all weather opening of the Karakoram Highway. It was agreed that the modalities of development of cross border facility at Kunjerab for all weather opening of the road will be considered further.

Small road projects

There was also no headway on five road projects that are already under CPEC framework. The minutes said the Pakistani side expressed desire that work on the Raikot-Thakot road and Dera-Ismail Khan-Zhob should be done on priority.

The Pakistani side briefed the progress on the provincial projects and hoped that more endevours shall be made by the Chinese side to facilitate Gilgit-Shandoor-Chitral project, Mirpur-Muzaffarabad-Mansehra project and Nokundi-Mashkel-Panjgur road.

The Chinese side noted the importance of Gilgit-Shandoor-Chitral project and Nokhundi-Panjgur project for the growth and prosperity of these regions. It was decided that these projects will be presented in the next Joint Working Group meeting on transport infrastructure after completion of feasibility studies.

Pakistani side expressed the hope that the groundbreaking ceremony of New Gwadar International Airport will be held in first quarter of 2019, The project faces significant delays. China has provided grant for the airport construction.

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Crown prince’s visit: MoU finalised for Saudi Aramco oil refinery in Gwadar

Source: The Express Tribune

Date: 8th January 2019

Pakistani is likely to sign a number of investment deals, including the construction of multi-billion-dollar oil refinery in the port city of Gwadar, during the upcoming visit of Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman to Pakistan next month, a Saudi newspaper reported, quoting Pakistani officials as saying.

The newspaper said that both the countries have finalised a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the construction of the Saudi Aramco oil refinery, following a 15-member Saudi delegation’s visit to Gwadar last week.

A high level Saudi delegation will visit Pakistan in February during which both the countries are expected to sign a number of investment deals. Pakistan authorities, according to the newspaper report, expected $15 billion investment from Saudi Arabia.

Last week, “a 15-member delegation of Saudi Arabia visited Gwadar as part of the finalisation process of the MoU for Aramco oil refinery,” Haroon Sharif, Minister of State and Chairman of Pakistan Board of Investment (BoI), told Arab News.

“We have finalised the MoU for the construction of Aramco oil refinery,” Sharif said, adding that “the agreement will be signed at an ‘appropriate time’,” he added. “We are going to sign MoUs with Saudi Aramco and Acwa Power within few weeks.”

According to the BoI chief, Aramco would construct a petrochemical complex, housing the multi-billion dollar oil refinery, while Acwa Power would invest in renewable energy sector. Both the projects would bring in an investment between $6-10 billion, he said.

“I am expecting around $15 billion investment from Saudi Arabia in the next three years,” Sharif told the newspaper, adding: “We estimate that roughly around $40 billion investment will be made by these three countries [Saudi Arabia, UAE, and China] in the next three to five years.”

During the recent visit of the Saudi delegation to Gwadar, the Chairman of Gwadar Port Authority, Dostain Khan Jamaldini, gave a briefing about the current developments, including the port, progress on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Gwadar Master Plan.

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China says it will continue providing assistance for Pakistan’s socioeconomic development

Source: Geo News

Date: 3rd Jan, 2019

ISLAMABAD: China has said it will continue to provide assistance for economic and social development of Pakistan through trade, investment, and all-round practical cooperation.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang, in his daily media briefing in Beijing, said China and Pakistan are all-weather friends and strategic cooperative partners, and acknowledged that China was extending financial assistance to help Pakistan boost its dwindling foreign reserves.

“The Chinese side has offered and will continue to offer its best through assistance, trade, investment and all-around practical cooperation to support and boost Pakistan’s economic and social development,” the spokesman said, in response to a question about China’s offer to give Pakistan $2 billion in aid to support its foreign exchange reserves.

A recent report in the Financial Times said China had agreed to lend at least $2 billion to Pakistan for helping it boost its dwindling foreign exchange and tanking currency.

The report, quoting two senior Pakistan government officials, said the loan was aimed at helping with a weakening fiscal position and high debts. “China’s promise to Pakistan is an indication of their commitment to help us avoid a crisis. If the rupee falls sharply and we need to prevent its slide, we can turn to China,” one of the officials in Islamabad told FT.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman further said both China and Pakistan have been “in close communication with each other on the relevant cooperation”.

The promised financial support signals deepening economic ties between China and Pakistan, amid turbulent economic indicators for the latter.

Pakistan’s foreign reserves, at $7.3 billion, have dropped to about one and a half months of import cover, regarded as a critically low level, said economists. The rupee has lost more than a fifth of its value against the dollar since late 2017, and Fitch has cut Pakistan’s debt rating deeper into junk territory last month.

According to the FT report, China has committed to invest more than $60 billion in infrastructure, energy, railway and road projects in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a centrepiece of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative.

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NAB signs MoU with China to oversee CPEC projects

Source: Pakistan Today

Date: 6th January 2019

ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal on Sunday said that the anti-graft watchdog has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China to oversee China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects being completed in Pakistan.

He said that considering corruption as cancer, NAB has chalked out a comprehensive National Anti-Corruption Strategy for logical conclusion of mega corruption white collar crimes cases by adopting the policy of ‘Accountability for All’ as the figures of complaints, inquiries and investigations are almost double as compared to the figures of the period between 2017 to 2018. The comparative figures for the last one year from October 2017 to December 2018 are indicative of hard work being put in by all ranks of NAB officers in an atmosphere of renewed energy and dynamism, where the fight against corruption is being taken as a national duty, he added.

He said that NAB is committed to rooting out corruption in all its forms and manifestations across the board with iron hands. He said that NAB has established a state-of-the-art forensic science lab in Islamabad which has facilities of digital forensics, questioned documents and fingerprint analysis which will be utilised for further improvements in the quality of inquiries and investigations. The NAB chief said that due to the prescribed timeline of 10 months for efficient, effective and expeditious disposal of cases from complaint verification-to-inquiry-to-investigation and finally to a reference in the accountability court, NAB has filed 440 corruption references from October 2017 to September 2018 which is a record achievement.

He said that NAB has introduced a new concept of Combine Investigation Team (CIT) in order to benefit from the experience and collective wisdom of senior supervisory officers, hence a system of CIT comprising of a director, additional director, investigation officer and a senior legal counsel has been put in place. This is not only lending quality to the work but also ensuring that no single individual can influence the official proceedings of NAB. He also said that NAB has signed MOU with China to oversee CPEC projects being completed in Pakistan.

He said that Transparency International (TI), PILDAT, Mishal, Gillani and Gallop survey and World Economic Forum have appreciated NAB’s efforts in the eradication of corruption. NAB, in a very short span of time, has established over 50,000 character-building societies in universities/colleges to create awareness against corruption which has proved very successful and now the young generation is aware of the ill effects of corruption and has joined hands with NAB to eradicate corruption from the country.

On September 25, Pakistan and China inked a MoU to work jointly for ensuring transparency in CPEC. Justice (r) Iqbal had said that NAB is playing a vital role in recovering looted money from culprits, adding that since October 2017, the organisation had recovered billions of rupees.

On July 10, the NAB chief had said that the bureau would continue to play its role for saving CPEC and other important development projects from corruption. Presiding over a meeting of Balochistan NAB, he had said that development of Balochistan was a guarantee of Pakistan’s development and prosperity.

During the meeting, Justice (r) Iqbal was briefed on the performance of Balochistan NAB. The meeting had also discussed various issues regarding action against corruption in the province. Justice (r) Iqbal had said that CPEC had not only great importance for the development and prosperity of Pakistan, but it was also a game-changer project for the entire region. He had said that NAB was playing its due role in eliminating corruption from the country and would continue to do so.