- Caretaker Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Sami Saeed chairs meeting to review progress on CPEC projects
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China are likely to sign a pact on participation of a third party in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects during the forthcoming Belt and Road Forum (BRF).
This was revealed by Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) at a recent meeting convened to review progress on CPEC projects, presided over by Caretaker Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Sami Saeed.
In June last year, MoFA had imposed a ban on announcements regarding inclusion of third party in CPEC projects, saying both Pakistan and China have already decided to refrain from making public announcements in this regard.
In a letter written by Director General (China) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there have been several instances involving mention of third-party inclusion in CPEC, clarifying that the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JWG) has mandated the Joint Working Group on International Cooperation and Coordination (JWG-ICC) with all matters related to prospective third parties’ inclusion in CPEC.
MoFA had made it clear that as per the policy, consensus reached by both Pakistan and China at the 1st and 2nd JWG meetings, pronouncements on third-party participation are to be made only after mutual consultation after consensus.
According to sources, on September 22, 2023, MoFA provided a briefing to the meeting regarding the progress made by the JWG on International Cooperation & Coordination. They stated that this group was established in the year 2018 with the primary objective of fostering a favourable international environment to facilitate the development and promotion of CPEC.
The first meeting of the group was held in April 2019, and subsequently, three more meetings have been convened. The fourth meeting is scheduled for this year, although the specific date is yet to be confirmed by the Chinese side.
MoFA further informed the Modalities/ ToRs for participation of 3rd parties in CPEC have been conclusively determined through comprehensive inter-ministerial consultations. They have submitted these procedures for review and feedback to the Ministry of Planning.
The Caretaker Minister for Planning expressed his satisfaction on progress achieved by the JWG and reiterated the significance of finalising of Modalities/ ToRs for ratification of 3rd parry in CPEC projects. He directed that these matters be concluded at the earliest in order to get it ready for signing during the forthcoming Belt and Road Forum.
MoITT noted that the first JWG meeting on IT was held on July 28, 2022 wherein 10 projects/ proposals were discussed under six different topics: ICT infrastructure, ICT application, Policy and regulation, Radio spectrum regulation, cybersecurity and HR development.
Furthermore, they noted that, as agreed in the 11th JCC meeting the following six Sub Working Groups have been established to formulate plans for cooperation in each area and their maiden meetings have been held except for sub working group on Human Resource: (i) Sub-Working Group on ICT Infrastructure Development; (ii) Sub-Working Group on ICT application innovation; (iii) Sub-Working Group on Cybersecurity; (iv) Sub-Working Group on Policy and Regulation; (v) Sub-Working Group on Radio Spectrum Regulation; and (v) Sub-Working Group on Human Resource Development .
The Chair directed to enhance connectivity and promote the ICT industry development and to carry out cooperation in 5G technologies and provide assistance towards formulation/ implementation of the 5G Pakistan Plan.
Power Division informed that agenda of the 9th and 7th EPEP has been finalised with National Energy Administration of China. Draft minutes are being finalised between Power Division and NEA. However, the date for holding 9th JWG meeting is yet to be confirmed by the Chinese side.
It was decided that as minutes of 11th JCC have been signed and in compliance certain items need discussion/ recommendation of the EPEP. Therefore, meeting of EPEP shall be arranged at the earliest before consideration of JEWG.
Caretaker Minister for Planning directed to arrange a separate meeting on the security aspects of CPEC projects with relevant stakeholders.
Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MoNFS&R) provided a briefing on the progress achieved by the JWG on Agriculture Cooperation. It was reported that several protocols for the export of agricultural commodities from Pakistan to China have already been signed, and efforts are under way to finalise additional protocols. MoNFS&R emphasised its role in facilitating Chinese companies in pursuing business opportunities aligned with the agreed-upon agendas in JWG.
Additionally, MoNFS&R conveyed information regarding the PC-I for the establishment of the Centre for Sustainable Control of plant pest and diseases. MoNFS&R was advised to expedite the processing of this PC-I proposal to ensure timely progress in this area of cooperation.
The Ministry of Science and Technology shared the following proposed agenda and way forward for upcoming meeting of JWG: (i) joint work on value chain of lithium-ion batteries; (ii) establishment of Technology Pak in Medical Equipment and device development; (iii) linking Pakistan’s AL/ Big Data Companies of China; and (iv) promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the Hi-Tech industry.
Furthermore, they stated that the PC-1 of the Joint Research Centre on Earth Sciences at Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad has been approved by the Planning Commission which will be subsequently shared with the CIDCA via EAD and MoU on the “establishment of China-South Asia Technology Transfer Centre (CSTTC) Sub Centre Pakistan at PCSIR” has been signed.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023