11th JCC Meeting on CPEC: China, Pakistan agree to move ahead on key new projects
ISLAMABAD: China and Pakistan Thursday agreed to consider five new proposals to expand the portfolio of China, Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) besides agreeing to finalise the significant Main Line-I (ML-I) railway project during the long-awaited 11th meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) of CPEC.
The meeting was held through video conference with both sides expressing satisfaction over the ongoing projects under CPEC while several projects were proposed. The new areas of corporation proposed include Global Development Initiatives (GDI); Post Disaster Reconstruction; Strengthening of Digital Investment in the Economy; 1+5 arrangements for SEZs; Agreement between Geological Survey Intuitions of the two countries; and Cooperation to develop the export potential of Pakistan. Similarly, the Framework Agreement on Single Window Cooperation in Inland Trade was also proposed.
Both sides have also agreed to start the ML-1 project which was considered the backbone of CPEC but remained neglected in the past. It was agreed to include a new area of "Water Resource Management and Climate Change which will have great importance, especially after the recent flood which badly affected Pakistan.
Pakistan also proposed a mechanism for a new area of Water Resources Management and Climate Change to be added to the CPEC framework, considering the enhanced vulnerability of Pakistan to climate events.
The meeting was co-chaired by Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal and Vice Chairman of National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC) China Mr. Lin Nianxiu. During the meeting, the conveners of the Joint Working Groups JWGs on Energy, Transport Infrastructure, Gwadar, Socio-Economic Development, Security, Long-Term Planning of CPEC, Industrial Cooperation, International Cooperation, Science & Technology, and Agriculture Cooperation made presentations highlighting the progress on their specific areas and the plans of actions.
Similarly, both sides have agreed to explore new avenues in the mining sector and it was decided to set up a new working group to explore the sector. The Government of Pakistan has also launched an initiative to include 10,000 MW of Solar energy in its system. Pakistan requested China to create a financing window or a credit line for Chinese companies participating in this project.
As per an official handout issued after the meeting, Ahsan Iqbal said the inclusion of new projects will increase the CPEC's portfolio while the Business to Business cooperation would also boost CPEC scope as CPEC portfolio was in Government to Government mode only. It was decided that the agreements made during the JCC would be signed during the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif during which all important MoUs will be signed formally.
Pakistan also assured Chinese counterparts to continue to beef up the security of Chinese nationals working on CPCE projects and in this regard, several initiatives have been taken. Both sides have agreed to expand their cooperation in Information Technology and it was decided that Chinese companies will establish research centers in Pakistan to explore new avenues of cooperation in this sector. The JCC also highlighted the significance of the key projects for energy and infrastructure development; which are now operational and providing a myriad of opportunities for socio-economic development in Pakistan.
These projects include; 2x660 MW Port Qasim Power Plants, 2x660 MW Sahiwal Power Plant, 2x330 MW Engro Thar Power Plants; 50 MW Hydro China Dawood Wind Farm Thatta; 1000 MW Quaid e Azam Solar Park, Bahawalpur. Similarly, in Infrastructure projects, KKH Phase II (Havelian - Thakot Section), Peshawar-Karachi Motorway (Multan-Sukkur Section), Hakla - D.I Khan Motorway and Orange Line Metro Train – Lahore have been completed.
The meeting was informed by the Ministry of Energy, 11 projects of over 6370 MW have been completed, along with an HVDC Transmission Line of 880 km. Three more projects of around 1200 MW are expected to be completed within 2023-24. It was also informed that another 3100 MW which has achieved 90% milestones for FC (700 MW Azad Pattan HPP, 1124MW Kohala Hydel Project and 1320 MW Thar Coal Block-I), are finalized at the earliest to get closer to our envisaged target of 17000 MW.
The project in Motorways & Highways of around 888 Km was also highlighted which has been constructed with both Chinese and local financing (another 853 under construction through local financing). The KKH-Thakot-Havelian, one of the flagship projects of this sector, has received international recognition.
Similarly, another priority project, the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) was discussed in length which will benefit a large segment of the population of our largest city of Pakistan, Karachi. The Provincial Government of Sindh has revised the project documents and its internal processing by GoP is being completed. The project is proposed to be implemented under the G2G arrangement on the lines of the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project (OLMTP). "We have fulfilled all the formalities to initiate this project as Cabinet also approved it," said the minister, while highlighting the significance of the project which will have a great positive impact on Pakistan's economy.
The Cooperation in the Agriculture sector was also discussed in length in the 11th JCC, which is one of the essential elements of the second phase of CPEC. Pakistan has finalized some agreements to promote the export of Pakistani agricultural items to China which needs to substantially enhance the scope and scale of these products.
The Ministry of National Food Security has proposed an MoU on Cooperation in Plant & Animal Quarantine and Phytosanitary Measures, which will help pave the way for exports of meat, vegetables and fruits to China. It is an important initiative and needs to be finalized urgently.