China vows high quality construction of CPEC

BEIJING/CHINA:

Pakistan and China had agreed to continue high-quality construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and strengthen coordination on international and regional affairs during the third round of Foreign Ministers Strategic Dialogue, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday.

The dialogue was held in, southwest China’s Sichuan Province last week, in which Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi led the delegations of their respective countries.

The two sides held an in-depth exchange of views on international and regional issues of common interest, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian told his regular briefing in Beijing.

He said that Foreign Minister Wang pointed out that since the establishment of the bilateral diplomatic ties 70 years ago, the two countries had worked together to overcome many obstacles and forged “an iron-clad friendship and an all-weather strategic partnership” of cooperation.

“A high degree of mutual trust, mutual assistance, seeking peace and promoting development together are the most distinctive features of the bilateral relations and greatest strength in moving forward together,” Zhao added.

He added that the Chinese side was willing to work with Pakistan to take the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic ties as an opportunity to accelerate the construction of a closer community with a shared future in a new era and bring more benefits to the two peoples and make greater contribution to regional stability and prosperity.

Lijian said that the current situation in Afghanistan gravely threatened its peace and stability, and security interests of the countries in the region.

The Afghan situation is at a very critical crossroads between war and peace, order and chaos, which presents a serious challenge, he said. He said that China always believes that political negotiation is the only viable way to settle the Afghan issue.

The spokesperson said, it should be pointed out that the recent US announcement of a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan has led to a deteriorating situation in the security of Afghanistan. “This gravely threats Afghans peace and stability and security interests of countries in region,” he added.

He remarked that as the one who started the Afghan issue, the US should shoulder its due responsibility and ensure a smooth transition in Afghanistan with concrete actions, avoid a resurgence of terrorism and uphold the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

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Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) train to resume operations soon

The national railways of Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan have unanimously agreed to resume regular operations of the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) container train soon. According to news sources, all necessary preparations for the container train line have been met.

The ITI corridor was first launched in 2009. The framework existed within the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). The Economic Cooperation Organization or ECO is an Asian political and economic intergovernmental organization that was founded in 1985 in Tehran by the leaders of Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey. It provides a platform to discuss ways to improve development and promote trade and investment opportunities.

Although various test journeys were carried out, the transit line did not become a regular service. This however should change since the three countries have now agreed to unified tariffs and a steady timetable.

The Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad freight train will be relaunched next year, participants of a tri-lateral economic bloc thus decided yesterday.

The 10th edition of the Economic Cooperation Organization’s (ECO) Transport and Communications Ministers Meeting was held in Istanbul.

All obstacles for international cargo transportation should be removed, Adil Karaismailoglu, Turkey’s transport minister said in his opening speech.

He also said quotas should be removed in the ECO region.

The availability of the train is actively promoted in each country, in order to dispatch this train as soon as possible, the companies said.

Importance of the ITI train

The railway line has great potential. Initially, it took a train 15 days to make the 6500km journey, and this was eventually reduced to 11.5 days. The train can carry 20, 40ft rail cars. The route has been recognized as an international corridor by the United Nations.

It is foreseen that the railway not only connects these three countries but also forms a link between Europe and Asia. From Istanbul, there are good connections to Europe and with the use of the Marmara undersea railway tunnel, the delivery could be even faster. The Marmara railway tunnel was recently opened for rail freight traffic, allowing for a faster link between the European and Asian sides of the Turkish city.

On the other end, India and Bangladesh have expressed interest to connect to the line, in order to realize a faster transport link to the Middle East and Europe. The ITI train is also called the Eco Container Train.

CPEC projects expected to pick up pace soon

Minister for Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtyar on Wednesday expressed hope that implementation of projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework would be expedited.

Bakhtyar hoped that the joint cooperation committee meeting that is scheduled for December would be successful and that the implementation of important socioeconomic, energy, transport, infrastructure and special economic zone projects would be expedited.

“Agriculture is one of the key sectors for the Pakistan’s economy… Pakistan and China should deepen and expand cooperation in the agriculture sector under CPEC umbrella to enhance productivity and value addition,” the minister said during a meeting with China’s newly appointed Ambassador Nong Rong.

Economic minister hoped that Pakistan-China ties would further deepen and be strengthened.

“Pakistan and China are strategic partners and both countries supported each other on the issues of their core interest,” he said.

The $60 billion CPEC kick-started five years back concentrating mainly on construction of roads and motorways and power plants to ensure energy security in the wake of massive power shortfall. Within a last couple of years, a series of power projects transformed the country into energy-surplus destination from the power-deficient one.

Special economic zones are the next phase of development after early harvest projects under the CPEC. Government is expecting $1.3 billion worth of exports revenue from industrial chemicals through establishing SEZs dedicated to biotechnology.

However, the second phase of industrial and agriculture cooperation has yet to be made practical with debt burden on Pakistan’s economy frequently being questioned.

During the meeting, Pakistan-China economic relations, cooperation in fighting COVID-19, CPEC, and matters of mutual economic interests were discussed. The meeting agreed that the strategic partnership should set the basis for strong economic partnership.

Ambassador Nong said Pakistan-China relations will grow further under the leadership of the two countries. He conveyed government of China’s full support to CPEC and resolved that Pakistan and China should further deepen and cooperation at the bilateral and multilateral institutions.

CPEC framework envisaged 10,000 megawatts of production capacity.

In the first phase, a total of 1,544 km of roads have been constructed and 1,456 km are under construction. In the energy sector, 5,320 MW of electricity has been added to the national grid, while work on 7 projects with 4,170 MW power projects is nearing completion. Additional projects of 2,844MW are planned. Also, cross border optical fiber project which stretches over 820 km linking Khunjrab to Rawalpindi has already been completed.

Source: The News  https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/752681-cpec-projects-expected-to-pick-up-pace-soon

CPEC is flagship project of Pakistan, China: Dr Moeed

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Security, Dr Moeed Yusuf Thursday said China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a flagship project of Pakistan and China.

He made these remarks while meeting China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong here, said a press release.

Both the dignitaries discussed matters related to China-Pakistan relationship.

Speaking on the occasion, the SAPM said the cordial relations between the two countries were setting a path of economic progress in the region.

China and Pakistan were united at all fronts and both countries were working jointly for regional development, he added.

The SAPM discussed the Indian dossier and added India was trying to sabotage CPEC. But together Pakistan and China were ensuring that Indian attempts would fail, he added.

Dr Moeed Yusuf said Pakistan was focusing on economic diplomacy and economic security.

He mentioned that Prime Minister Imran Khan had constituted an Economic Outreach Apex Committee for this purpose.

He mentioned that the purpose of economic outreach was coordination among various relevant federal ministries, provincial departments and others for the achievement of targets.

The Chinese ambassador said Pakistan needed to develop Special Economic Zones being set up under the transformative CPEC. Pakistan had special relations and comprehensive strategic partnership with China, he added.

The SAPM underlined the need for China and Pakistan to constantly give message to the world that they stood united against all challenges.

Both sides also agreed to increase collaboration among think tanks of their countries and to devise a plan for that purpose.

Source: Business Recorder  https://www.brecorder.com/news/40039876/cpec-is-flagship-project-of-pakistan-china-dr-moeed

CPEC to become trade hub, says FO

In the post-COVID-19 scenario, through collective efforts of both the countries, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will become the hub for the regional trade and connectivity and will deepen people-to-people exchanges at a wider level, local media reported.

It was reaffirmed in the meeting between Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and CPEC Chairman Lt Gen (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa.

The foreign secretary said that the CPEC was a transformational project, and there was a complete national consensus on CPEC’s indispensability for Pakistan’s national development efforts.

“Pakistan and China are firmly committed to the timely completion of CPEC projects and making it a high-quality demonstration project of BRI [Belt and Road Initiative],” he said. Reviewing the progress of CPEC projects, the foreign secretary maintained that CPEC energy and infrastructure projects had created thousands of jobs and had boosted industrial growth and productivity. It testified to the fact that CPEC’s contribution to strengthening Pakistan’s economic landscape has been real and substantial, he emphasised.

The foreign secretary underlined that Pakistan’s focus in the next phase of CPEC was on industrialisation and socio-economic development, areas that will create vast job and growth opportunities for the common people.

Three out of the nine CPEC SEZs, namely Rashakai, Dhabeji and Allama Iqbal, have been prioritised and Pakistan would welcome foreign direct investment in those projects.

Lt Gen (r) Bajwa underscored that the CPEC Authority was committed to ensuring that CPEC projects were completed on time. He hoped that the 10th JCC, likely to be held in the near future, will create more economic opportunities and contribute to further expansion of CPEC projects. He reaffirmed that Pakistan would welcome the relocation of industry from China and in that regard will institute a regime that could encourage the inflow of Chinese investments to Pakistan.

The foreign secretary underlined that the government was particularly focused on strengthening agricultural cooperation between Pakistan and China.

In that regard, a plan of action, detailing the contours of this collaboration, was already being discussed between the two governments. The foreign secretary hoped that the plan of action will be expeditiously implemented.

Source: The News  https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/755413-post-covid-19-cpec-to-become-trade-hub-says-fo

CPEC second phase: Local, foreign investors to be invited

China and Pakistan have agreed to invite foreign and local investors – apart from Chinese investors – to invest in industrial zones under the industrial cooperation, in the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In this respect, the newly-appointed Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Nong Rong, called on the Chairman Board of Investment (BoI), Atif R Bokhari. Secretary BoI Fareena Mazhar and Project Director CPEC Asim Ayub were also present on the occasion.

During the meeting, the chairman BoI and Ambassador Nong Rong discussed matters of mutual interest, particularly those relating to industrial cooperation under the CPEC.

The chairman BoI said that both the governments were working together to make the second phase of the CPEC fruitful by attracting quality Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

The chairman BoI apprised the Chinese ambassador of the Draft Framework Agreement on Industrial Cooperation (IC) under the CPEC. Ambassador Nong Rong said he gave utmost importance to the draft framework agreement and would push it forward to the relevant departments in China. The chairman BoI stated that Pakistan and China had a future together and there was immense potential for people-to-people (P2P) linkages.

After effective government-to-government (G2G) cooperation, both countries were required to embark on a journey of effective business-to-business (B2B) collaboration.

Both sides dispelled the common misperception that the CPEC Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Pakistan were limited to Chinese companies only.

It was stressed that the SEZs and other industrial cooperation ventures under the CPEC were open to third party participation. It was also stressed that companies and investors from all the countries were welcome.

Source: Business Recorder  https://www.brecorder.com/news/40038546

Govt Approves Gwadar Smart City Master Plan

According to the Federal Secretary Maritime Affairs, Rizwan Ahmed, the government has approved the Gwadar Smart City Master Plan. According to reports, Gwadar’s economic output is expected to exceed $30 billion, while creating up to 1.2 million jobs for skilled workers.

Rizwan Ahmed briefed the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in a meeting chaired by MNA, Munazza Hassan, regarding a tentative review audit for the Maritimes Division. According to reports, all audit objections for the year 2009 were closed, and proceedings adjourned for new projects.

The Federal Secretary Maritime Affairs suggested that within the next three to four years, Gwadar will facilitate Central Asian countries, including Afghanistan, with China already in the Trade Belt mix. The Master Plan reportedly mentioned the establishment of international exhibition centers, theme parks, luxury resorts, botanical gardens, and museums in a thriving modern city.

The city will attract high paid jobs, as the government is keen to provide a tax-free environment. Pakistan’s largest international airport has been inaugurated, high-tech industries will be established, and mega shopping malls, luxury resorts, and manmade islands will change the national outlook.

According to reports, the Master Plan includes a $5 billion investment into Gwadar’s power sector for 15 new power plants, a $1 billion kitty to generate 700,000 cubic meters of fresh water through desalination plants, a central business district, and a manmade island.

Gwadar will require some 15,800 new homes by 2025, 47,600 by 2030, and 254,500 by 2050, according to the new Gwadar Smart City Master Plan.

Source: ProPakistani  https://propakistani.pk/2020/12/04/govt-approves-gwadar-smart-city-master-plan/

Rs38bn cross-border optic fibre project under CPEC cleared

The Central Develo­pment Working Party (CDWP) on Wednesday cleared five development projects at a cumulative cost of about Rs54 billion including Rs38bn second phase of a project for laying cross-border optic fibre cable with China.

At a meeting presided over by Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan, the CDWP itself approved four development projects with cumulative estimated cost of Rs16bn and referred for approval to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) the Rs37.91bn Optic Fibre Cable (OFC) Project along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Route (Khunjrab-Gwadar-Karachi).

The objective of the project is to provide alternate path for international connectivity through Northern border of Pakistan with China and ensure continuous uninterrupted connectivity between Northern and Southern borders of the country by establishing multiple rings for secure and uninterrupted communication network etc.

                                   CDWP also approves four more projects costing Rs16bn

Under the financial rules in vogue, the CDWP is empowered to itself approve projects costing no more than Rs10bn while projects of higher estimated costs are approved by Ecnec once the CDWP clears them on technical grounds.

The meeting also agreed 50:50 sharing of Covid-19 Responsive and Other Natural Calamities Control Programme with provinces. The project had already been cleared but financing shares remained unsettled. The federal share of the project would now be Rs70bn.

The CDWP agreed with the recommendations of the committee for the project titled “Covid-19 Responsive and Other Natural Calamities Control Programme” worth Rs70bn with proposed changes. The PC-1 of this project will facilitate the national programme to improve facilities at 50:50 basis financial supports to all the provinces in district and tehsil headquarters level hospitals, public health surveillance separately for both human and animals, National Programme for Water Sanitation and Hygiene and Improvement in local infrastructure. AJK and GB will also be covered under the project financing.

The meeting approved a project related to Physical Planning & Housing titled “Construction of Islamabad High Court Building at Islamabad (Revised)” worth Rs4.989bn. It involves construction of Islamabad High Court on an already acquired plot measuring 220,000 sq.ft at sector G-5, Islamabad. The scope of works includes: construction of courts, auditorium, car parking, road & paths, plumbing works and wood works etc.

Two projects related to education were presented to the committee. First project namely “Support to Basic Education Development Project AJ&K” worth Rs5.97bn and second project titled “Basic Education for All Project AJ&K” worth Rs1.58bn were approved by the CDWP.

The meeting also approved a Rs3.482bn worth of project namely “Establishment of National Aerospace Science & Technology Park”.

Two Position Papers related to Industries and Commerce were also approved in the meeting. These included “Establishment of Hub Special Economic Zone” worth Rs2.288bn and “Remodeling and Expansion of Karachi Expo Center” at a cost of Rs2.677bn.

Another Position Paper related to water resources namely Nai Gaj Dam with an estimated cost of Rs46.555bn was also approved. The project envisaged construction of 194 ft high central core earth fill dam with a gross storage capacity of 0.30 million acre-feet and live storage of 0.16 MAF to irrigate 28,800 acres.

Source: DAWN  https://www.dawn.com/news/1593711/rs38bn-cross-border-optic-fibre-project-under-cpec-cleared

China lauds major progress in CPEC projects

China on Thursday acknowledged a major progress especially in the infrastructure and energy projects being completed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework.

CPEC is an important pilot programme in China and Pakistan joint efforts to build the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and there has been a major progress recently especially in infrastructure and energy projects,” Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Hua Chunying said in response to a question about speech of CPEC Authority Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa at the 11th International Infrastructure Investment and Construction Forum (IIICF) in Macao Special Administrative Region.

“Many roads were built creating job opportunities and boosting economic development in relevant area and benefiting the people there. It has been applauded by people in Pakistan,” she added.

Hua Chunying said that after Covid-19 broke out, the CPEC projects went on as usual playing an important role in Pakistan’s presumption of economic growth. The recent meeting of ‘14th Five Year Plan’ blueprinted the future development.

“The two sides attach importance to this project and work together to implement our leaders’ consensus and vow to carry out good jobs with existing projects, focus more on livelihood, industrial and agriculture cooperation,” she added.

The spokesperson remarked that both Beijing and Islamabad are committed to turn CPEC into a demonstration project for the BRI and bring greater benefits to both countries and the region.

Speaking at the forum, Bajwa said that CPEC is a major pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative.

“Over the past five years, there were 22 construction projects under the framework of CPEC, covering roads, railways, airports, thermal power, hydropower, renewable energy, Gwadar Port, special economic zones and other areas.”

He added: “In face of the novel coronavirus, all CPEC projects have been moving forward, bringing hope for a future of peace and economic growth.”

He said that infrastructure investment and construction would be a key to reviving the jobs market and national economies.

“Under CPEC, no project has been suspended for construction, and no worker has been laid off,” he told the gathering via video from Islamabad.

Later at the forum, Moinul Haque, Pakistan’s ambassador to China, invited members of the audience to applaud Chinese officials who made it possible for projects such as Lahore’s Orange Metro Line subway system to be completed.

The 11th IIICF brings together ambassadors from 32 countries, senior executives from over 20 financial institutions, and representatives of top contractors and engineering equipment companies, international consulting firms, and engineering and construction services.

More than 1,000 people attended the first day of the conference – the largest public event in Macao so far this year. APP

Source: The Express Tribune  https://tribune.com.pk/story/2274496/china-lauds-major-progress-in-cpec-projects

Pakistan, China finalise Gwadar projects for upcoming JCC

The 5th meeting of Pakistan China Joint Working Group (JWG) on Gwadar has finalized deliverable projects which would be placed before the next Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of CPEC.

The JWG meeting, held through a video link in Islamabad on Monday, was co-chaired by Ministry of Planning, Development, & Special Initiatives Secretary Mathar Niaz Rana and National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Director General Ying Xiong.

According to officials, the NDRC director general said that the development of Gwadar was a priority and would be pushed forward with vigor and zeal. The PD&SI secretary acknowledged the continuous support extended by Chinese government for Gwadar’s development and assured the Chinese side of Pakistan’s unwavering commitment to accelerate development work in the port city.

The meeting reviewed the progress of projects in Gwadar. Both sides expressed satisfaction over the progress made in port development with Chinese side appreciating the support provided by Pakistan in port operationalization, particularly enabling the Afghan transit trade through Gwadar.

It was agreed that this step would greatly reduce the logistic cost and facilitate the transshipment trade.

The China Overseas Ports Holding Company Limited (COPHCL) chairman explained the development of the port in detail and highlighted the renewed interest of entrepreneurs in investing in Gwadar port and free zone area. It was informed that the Eastbay Expressway will be completed in 2021 and all pending issues have been resolved on priority.

The expressway will connect the port with the 2nd phase of the Free Trade Zone (FTZ) which will facilitate business climate of the zone and the port alike. Other projects discussed included New Gwadar International Airport (NGIA) and M-8 Motorway for seamless connectivity of Gwadar with the rest of the country and beyond. The progress on the NGIA was noted with satisfaction.

The Chinese side appreciated progress on the energy projects in Gwadar. The Power Purchase Agreement of 300MW Coal Power Project was made as a deliverable for the forthcoming 10th JCC. The project upon completion will energize industry in Gwadar and will improve the social and economic well-being of the local community.

Projects in the social sector discussed during the meeting include Pak-China Friendship Hospital and Vocational & Technical Institute in Gwadar.

The MoPD&SI Secretary highlighted that the hospital project is of vital importance for the people of Gwadar and needs to be expedited. For the Vocational & Technical Institute, both sides agreed to push ahead to create job opportunities for the youth.

For the development of Gwadar as a smart port city, it was reiterated that the provision of freshwater is of utmost importance. In this regard, the 1.2 MGD desalination plant project was termed critical. Both sides agreed to take necessary measures to complete the project in time.

The dredging of berthing areas is important for large vessels to access the Gwadar port which will improve the operationally of the port. For the construction of breakwater, timely completion of the project was stressed as a crucial intervention required for the fishermen community in Gwadar. The secretary proposed to divide the project into two phases for better implementation of the project. DG NDRC replied in affirmative and appreciated the idea.

The secretary also appreciated the projects under Corporate Social Responsibility including the Fraternity Emergency Care Centre of the Red Crescent Society of China, Pak-China Faqeer Colony School and other initiatives of the China Overseas Port Holding Company.

Source: Profit  https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/11/30/pakistan-china-finalise-gwadar-projects-for-upcoming-jcc/