Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood

ISLAMABAD, Dec 31 (APP): Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood Thursday said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a transformational project and had opened up significant and far-reaching economic opportunities for Pakistan.

“There is complete national consensus on CPEC’s indispensability for our national development efforts. In the first phase of CPEC, we have made major advancement in the domain of energy and infrastructure,” the foreign secretary said during the Second Meeting of CPEC Joint Working Group on International Cooperation and Coordination held in Urumqi, China.

Co-chaired by Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Luo Zhaouhi, the meeting reviewed the progress of the JWG since its inaugural session on April 9, 2019 in Beijing.

The foreign secretary said the CPEC had entered its second phase with vigorous focus on industrialization, agriculture and socio-economic development.

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He said Pakistan hoped that the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) being developed under CPEC would rejuvenate Pakistan’s process of industrialization and further spur economic development.

He reaffirmed the government’s resolve to complete CPEC projects in a timely manner.
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood hoped that the 10th JCC, to be held in the near future, would help create more economic opportunities and contribute to further expansion of CPEC projects.

He reiterated that Pakistan would welcome relocation of industry from China and in that regard was instituting a regime to encourage inflow of Chinese investments to Pakistan.

The foreign secretary highlighted efforts made by the Pakistan government, think-tanks, academia, and the media to promote a factual, objective, and coherent view of the CPEC projects carefully and transparently designed through mutual consultations.

He particularly underlined that there was a need for the international community to comprehensively and objectively analyze the impact of CPEC on Pakistan and the regional economy.

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Emphasizing that CPEC was a fiscally responsible project, he reiterated that both sides would welcome third party participation in CPEC projects through mutual consultations.

It was reaffirmed in the meeting that China and Pakistan would continue to work closely to promote CPEC’s positive contributions and would encourage think-tanks, media and opinion-makers to understand and examine it as a case-study for international co-operation, economic development, and people-to-people exchanges.

The foreign secretary also welcomed efforts of academia community and policy experts to enhance sharing of best practices and experience in CPEC and BRI development through greater international communication and cooperation.

The next round of JWG will be held in 2021 on mutually agreed dates.