CPEC first economic zone to start early next year

BEIJING, Dec 21 (INP): Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar said that one of the nine special economic zones under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will start its commercial operation by the first quarter of 2019.

“The two sides also are exploring the possibility expedite the growth of the manufacturing sector in Pakistan,” he said.

The minister who visited Beijing to head the Pakistani delegation to the eighth Joint Cooperation Committee meeting of the CPEC, said the corridor, which is a part of the Belt and Road Initiative, included a variety of infrastructure projects such as roads, railways and oil and gas pipelines from Gwadar Port to Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

He said that ensuring the safety of Chinese nationals and businesses was one of the priorities of Pakistan, and the nation’s special security division could be further reinforced.

The minister said the two countries needed to broaden the corridor’s base and hasten its pace and added, the two sides had maintained frequent high-level exchanges since Imran Khan became prime minister in August.

One of the major consensuses reached between the two countries was adding more areas, such as social and economic development and agricultural and industrial sectors, to the CPEC agreement.

“We have seen a lot of milestones achieved in early harvest projects, especially in the energy sector,” he said.

Khusro Bakhtyar said that Chinese companies’ investments had helped Pakistan solve the problem of energy deficiencies.

“People across Pakistan, including policymakers, value the role and significant contribution that the CPEC has made toward the present and future economic growth of the country,” he said.