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Pakistan, China renew Joint Economic Committee after 11 years

By Mehtab Haider
December 09, 2021
Pakistan, China renew Joint Economic Committee after 11 years

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China on Wednesday resumed the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) meeting after an 11 year pause to strengthen bilateral ties under the broader framework.

The forum of JEC was put on the backburner as everything was finalized through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for the last eight years. Now both sides have agreed to resume talks under the JEC forum as well after a pause of 11 years.

According to an official announcement, Omar Ayub Khan, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, opened the 15th Session of Pakistan-China Joint Economic Committee on Economic, Trade, Scientific & Technical Cooperation with his remarks. He commended the government of China for hosting the 15th Session of JEC after 11 years. The virtual meeting of JEC was co-chaired by Ren Hongbin, Vice Minister of China, and Mian Asad Hayaud Din, Secretary, Economic Affairs Division, Pakistan.

Minister Omar Ayub expressed satisfaction on completion of 70 years of everlasting and unprecedented bilateral friendship between Pakistan and China. To highlight the significance of the event, Omar referred to the Bilateral Agreement for establishment of Joint Committee for Economic, Trade, Scientific & Technical Cooperation signed in 1982, and called it the basis of bilateral cooperation. Pakistan and China, he said, have always supported each other at every front. Pakistan was among the first countries to express solidarity with China at the time of outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and its president visited Beijing during the pandemic. Similarly, the government of China supported Pakistan in pandemic mitigation. To support Pakistan’s mass vaccination, Chinese companies supplied Covid-19 vaccine on priority and provided over 4 million doses of vaccine free of cost.

The Minister for Economic Affairs highlighted that Pakistan and China are entering into the next phase of CPEC, where Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are being established. The SEZs would attract foreign direct investment, establish industrial units, create employment opportunities and boost economic activities. Similarly, operationalisation of Gwadar Port will also create momentum in the external trade. China is Pakistan's largest trading partner for the last six consecutive years since 2015. At present, China is Pakistan's main source of imports and second-largest export destination, Omar said.

Highlighting Pakistan's immense investment opportunities in various sectors, the Minister for Economic Affairs said Pakistan provides conducive and liberal investment environment to foreign investors and entrepreneurs. All foreign investments are fully protected under Foreign Private Investment Promotion and Protection Act, 1976 and Protection of Economic Reforms Act, 1992. Special Economic Zones are also being established to meet the global competitiveness with the state-of-the-art infrastructure and connectivity. The SEZ incentive package includes 10-years income tax exemption and one-time exemption from all custom-duties and taxes on import of capital goods.

Textile, leather, pharmaceutical and surgical industries of Pakistan are considered to be best in the world and are exported around the globe. Accordingly, Chinese investors can benefit from the huge potential of Pakistan’s industrial sector. Omar said the Small & Medium Enterprises Development Authority and Board of Investment of Pakistan can collaborate with Chinese counterparts for enhancing cooperation in industrial sector. Furthermore, he highlighted the need for mutual cooperation in agricultural research, enhanced productivity, value addition and food processing through joint ventures and business-to-business contacts, the minister said.

Both sides also discussed issues relating to development projects in energy, infrastructure and social sectors. They also agreed to promote investment and industrial cooperation on fast track basis. Mian Asad Hayaud Din, Secretary, EAD, also spoke about promotion of bilateral trade cooperation, exchange of experience in poverty alleviation and establishment of joint working groups, strengthening of cooperation under multilateral framework. The secretary, EAD also appreciated measures taken by the Chinese Government to tackle Covid-19 pandemic.

Ren Hongbin, Vice Minister of China, commented that the fruitful discussions on bilateral economic relations between the two countries will meet the objectives of deepening bilateral relationship. He also hoped the next session of Pak-China JEC will be held in Pakistan soon.