Cooperation between Pakistan and China entered a new phase as business-to-business interactions kicked off with an inaugural meeting of the CPEC business council on Friday.
This will provide a platform for regular consultation between the government and business community on matters related to private sector investments and push forward industrial cooperation under CPEC.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Khusro Bakhtyar and Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood co-chaired the first meeting of the CPEC Business Council in Islamabad on Friday.
The planning minister said that the purpose behind establishing the forum is to create an interface between the government and business community and take forward the industrial cooperation between Pakistan and China.
“We want to address the trade imbalance, broaden market access for agricultural products and encourage B2B cooperation between the two countries,” he said.
Khusro said that the scope of CPEC has been expanded with a focus on industrial and agriculture cooperation, socio-economic development, trade and market access.
He expressed optimism on the creation of the CPEC Business Council saying that representation from the private sector will accelerate the pace of industrialisation under the umbrella of a mega project.
The minister said that the focus is to boost Pakistan’s industrial capacity through joint ventures in priority areas, relocation of labour-intensive export led industry, SME’s collaboration and enhancement of vocational training capacity.
Dawood said that after implementation of early harvest projects of energy and infrastructure under CPEC, the stage is now set to expedite industrial collaboration which will help attract private investments and diversify the country’s exports.
“We are in the second phase of CPEC where industrialisation and agriculture growth would be the main goals of the current regime. Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have been the engine of growth for many developing states around the world for the last few decades and it’s high time Pakistan convert its SEZs into growth hubs,” he said.
The adviser hoped that SEZs would attract investment from diversified sources because they offer a combination of tax-and-tariff incentives, streamlined customs procedures and less regulation.
Earlier, BOI Chairperson Haroon Sharif in his welcome address said that BOI will serve as the secretariat for the CPEC Business Council. He added that a dedicated team of professionals has been hired in this regard.
Planning Secretary Zafar Hasan, CPEC Project Director Hassan Daud and representatives from leading associations and companies also attended the meeting.