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Chinese Prime Minister due next month: accords on various projects may be inked

Islamabad and Beijing may sign some agreements/Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) on various projects in the country as Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is likely to visit Pakistan next month. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through a letter, has requested various ministries/departments to put up any agreement/MoU to be signed during the VVIP visit from China.

According to sources, the Chinese delegation led by its Prime Minister is likely to arrive in Islamabad by mid-December.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs through a letter No China-10/7/2010 date November 4, 2010 has requested the heads of Economic Affairs Division, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Water & Power, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Narcotics, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Food & Agriculture, Ministry of Environment, Planning & Development Division, Cabinet Division, Ministry of Industries, Production and Special Initiatives, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Communication, Ministry of Science & Technology, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Ministry of Information Technology, Smeda, PTV, PTCL, Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, Board of Investment, State Bank of Pakistan, Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB), Higher Education Commission (HEC), Wapda, NDMA, National Tariff Commission, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (Parc), Pakistan Olympic Association, Anti-Narcotics Force and the Planning Commission to ensure all cordial formalities for visit of the Chinese delegation. Both countries, they said, would discuss various projects especially the construction of a highway from Gwadar to Quetta, on the Afghan border, where it will connect to Pakistan's national highway network, and from there to the Karakoram Highway that leads to China.

According to sources, Pakistan and in particular Balochistan, is China's physical link to its sizeable investments in Iranian gas, Afghan hydropower and Gulf oil. Chinese companies have poured at least $15 billion into Balochistan projects: an oil refinery, copper and zinc mines and a deepwater port at Gwadar, in the Gulf of Oman.

During the delegation's visit, sources said, Islamabad would also seek Chinese investment and collaboration in the areas of energy, mining and minerals, infrastructure development as well as skill development. Besides Pakistan would also try to convince the neighbouring country to amend/expand the existing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) while including more items in the FTA list which would support Islamabad's export to China, sources added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2010