ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has identified 20 to 25 giant companies for joint ventures (JVs) with Chinese counterparts for giving an opportunity to invest in upcoming special economic zones (SEZs) under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar along-with Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce, Industry and Textile Abdul Razak Dawood co-chaired the maiden meeting of the CPEC Business Council in Islamabad on Friday.
Private sector representatives at the meeting criticised the government for not facilitating them. One participant from Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry said water scarcity was making life difficult, and the government should focus on provision of clean drinking water as the first priority.
Advisor to PM on Commerce Razak Dawood responded that now the government would put giant companies and businessmen on its front, and assume the role of facilitator for the future course of action.
However, he categorically made it clear that the government would not bear expenses of tickets and others for the businessmen who were trying to establish JVs with Chinese counterparts. He argued that if businessmen could not afford travel and staying expenses, they should not be vying for big business opportunities.
According to the official statement issued by the Ministry of Planning after the meeting, Planning Minister Bakhtyar said the forum was established for interaction between the government and business community to take forward the industrial cooperation between Pakistan and China to new heights. “Through industrial cooperation, we also want to address trade imbalance, broaden market access for agricultural products and encourage B2B cooperation between the two countries,” he added.
Bakhtyar said the scope of CPEC has been expanded with focus on industrial and agriculture cooperation, socio-economic development, and trade and market access. The minister expressed optimism that creation of CPEC Business Council, with representation from private sector leading associations and companies in various areas, would accelerate the pace of industrialisation under the umbrella of the mega project.
He further said the focus was to boost Pakistan’s industrial capacity through JVs in priority areas, relocation of labour-intensive export-led industry, SME collaboration, and vocational training capacity.
Dawood said after implementation of early harvest projects of energy and infrastructure under CPEC, the stage was now set to expedite industrial collaboration to attract private investments for diversifying the country’s exports. “We are in the second phase of CPEC, where industrialisation and agriculture growth would be the main goals of the current regime,” he added. Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have been the engine of growth for many developing states around the world for the last few decades and it was the high time for Pakistan to convert its SEZs into growth hubs.
The advisor hoped that SEZs would attract investment from diverse sources because they offered a combination of tax-and-tariff incentives, and streamlined customs procedures with less regulation. “The production of finished goods is the topmost priority, which will help Pakistan in reducing trade deficit,” the advisor said.
Earlier, Board of Investment Chairman Haroon Sharif welcomed all the members to the first meeting of the council and said BOI would serve as the Secretariat for the CPEC Business Council, for which a dedicated team of professionals has been hired.
He said BOI was improving its capacity to deal with matters of industrial cooperation with China, and urged the members to come up with tangible suggestions in this regard.
Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan, CPEC Project Director Hassan Daud, and representatives from leading associations and companies also attended the meeting.
Secretary to the Council, BOI Executive Director General Fareena Mazhar briefed the members on the progress in SEZ’s and incentive packages under industrial cooperation.
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