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The Businessmen Panel of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry has announced to endorse the Pak-China agreement to set a new direction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor for future cooperation in high economic impact areas, especially the shifting of the Chinese manufacturing units to Pakistan.

Businessmen Panel (BMP) Chairman Mian Anjum Nisar said that the relocation of Chinese industry to Pakistan and providing Chinese financing facilities for future projects are the welcome steps and if we could put all energies and provide enabling environment, the newly-agreed framework has the potential to transform the country from low-income to a middle-income country in the next few years. He asked the government to focus only on those projects that had a high impact on Pakistan's economy.

According to reports, the decisions to expand the CPEC scope were taken during the 9th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting that was co-chaired by Pakistan and Chinese representatives. He said the JCC meeting was fruitful and the agreed framework was promising, as it had set a new direction for the CPEC and hoped that the second phase of CPEC would yield tangible progress towards a shared goal of making this project a resounding success.

He said that high consideration should be given to socio-economic and industrial cooperation in the second phase of CPEC. He underscored that bilateral economic cooperation should proceed as planned for the mutual benefit of both the brotherly countries. It was decided to expand the CPEC to copper, gold, oil, gas and affordable housing sectors, as the copper and mineral development would benefit both the countries since China remained one of the largest copper importers.

Mian Nisar said that only the oil and gas sectors have the potential to attract up to $10 billion Chinese investment. He maintained that the revival of Pakistan Steel Mills with the help of China could also reduce the import bill by $4 billion. It's also appreciable that the government has reinforced its decision to fence the Pak-Iran border after the Pak-Afghan border aimed at securing the CPEC from external threats and consolidating internal security gains.

He said that Pakistan's security challenges had roots in its neighbourhood and to meet the challenges, there was a need to completely fence the country's borders with Afghanistan and Iran. He stressed the need for completing border fencing as early as possible because without 100 percent border fencing, Pakistan's security cannot be guaranteed.

Mian Nisar greeted the government for announcing to perform the groundbreaking ceremony of the $9 billion ML-I project, which had been facing a four-year delay. The joint committee finalised and approved the financing modalities of ML-I, he said and proposed the authorities that the Karachi Circular Railways project should also be remained the priority of the government.

He said that the CPEC will be a gateway of progress and prosperity for a bright future. He added that 2019 would prove to be a significant year for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, as several significant milestones will be achieved by the end of the year.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019