BEIJING: Expressing complete satisfaction over the outcome of 8th JCC of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Federal Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar Friday said the two countries agreed to hold the first meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on agriculture in early next year to further expand their cooperation.
“Agriculture has enormous potential as 25 percent of our GDP depends on it," he said while talking to a group of Pakistani journalists here.
He said the two sides would discuss branding and packaging of agricultural products in a bid to increase exports, adding, “Our livestock export is also very low and there is a need to enhance it to different countries. We have also proposed to set up a special economic zone for the development of agriculture sector in the country."
The minister informed that the two sides also held the first meeting of the recently established JWG on socioeconomic cooperation which discussed a detailed action plan in six areas for future cooperation such as education, agriculture, poverty alleviation, skill development, healthcare, water supply and vocational training projects.
The two sides agreed on poverty alleviation demonstration projects in all regions of Pakistan, he added.
He said a memorandum of understanding had been signed for industrial cooperation to relocate manufacturing and engineering units from China to Pakistan.
In this regard, four special economic zones had been prioritized one each in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhaw and Islamabad Capital Territory, he added.
He expressed the confidence that the Rashakai special economic zone would become operational in the next three months, adding, this special economic zone would play a key role in enhancing our exports.
About the development of Gwadar, he informed that the groundbreaking of the new international airport at Gwadar would be performed as early as possible.
He said the provincial government was taking measures to ensure supply of electricity and water which was essential for the development of Gwadar.
Khusro Bakhtyar said although the CPEC was a bilateral cooperative agreement, both Pakistan and China would encourage investment from friendly countries in the petroleum sector particularly setting up an oil refinery in Gwadar.
Reiterating Pakistan's firm commitment to CPEC, he termed it as the heart and soul of economic cooperation between the all-weather strategic partners.
He said the stage was now set to take it to the next level wherein the cooperation could be diversified to more trade and industrial cooperation, socioeconomic development, agriculture, people-to-people interaction and knowledge sharing as per vision of our leadership.
He said in an effort to decrease production cost, the government would encourage indigenous coal in the energy sector, “We are also focusing on hydel power generation to reduce the cost of production."
The minister informed that he had proposed to increase the number of the meeting of JWG to expedite progress on various projects.
In the maritime sector, Karachi and KPT would be linked with Port Qasim to save time and transportation cost, he added.
Responding to a question, he said the government would focus on value addition on industrial and agricultural products and also protect the local industries.