The Board of Investment (BOI), Pakistan, and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China, have signed the much-anticipated Framework Agreement on Industrial Cooperation under the CPEC on Friday.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, held a one-on-one meeting with the Chairman, NDRC, He Lifeng, at Beijing on Friday to deliberate on the progress of the CPEC projects, which was followed by the signing ceremony of the Framework Agreement on Industrial Cooperation under the CPEC.
The agreement that holds a paramount significance for CPEC Phase II and its future course of action has been inked between BOI and NDRC, the lead agencies on CPEC Industrial Cooperation. Minister of State and Chairman BOI, Muhammad Azfar Ahsan and He Lifeng, chairman NDRC were the signatories of the agreement.
“Today marks the beginning of enhanced Pak-China Industrial Cooperation as BOI and NDRC have signed the much-anticipated Framework Agreement under the witness of PM during his ongoing visit of China. This will be a quantum leap for CPEC and would steer Pakistan into a new era of industrialization,” the chairman BOI said.
The CPEC Joint Working Group on Industrial Cooperation was established in 2016 and an MoU was signed between the parties in 2018. With the passage of time and as the CPEC entered its second phase, the need for a comprehensive Framework Agreement became imperative.
Both sides reached the consensus on the elevation of the MoU into a Framework Agreement in 2020, whereby BOI took the lead by sharing the draft agreement with its Chinese counterpart to kick-start the negotiations.
Concrete commitments have been formalised through the agreement, whereby, the Government of Pakistan will ensure concerted efforts for a conducive business environment and timely development of the SEZs.
The agreement reaffirms prioritised development and operations of the nine CPEC SEZs, with primary focus on the early completion of Rashakai SEZ in KP, Allama Iqbal Industrial City in Punjab, Dhabeji SEZ in Sindh, and Bostan SEZ in Balochistan. For colonisation of these SEZs, business-to-business matchmaking mechanism of Pakistani and Chinese enterprises has also been emphasised, which will proliferate the people-to-people and institution-to-institution linkages.
The BOI leadership, including Chairman, Muhammad Azfar Ahsan, and Secretary Fareena Mazhar expressed their contentment over this milestone event and strongly believe that tangible outcomes will be achieved in the future under the ambit of the CPEC Industrial Cooperation.
Ahsan shared that the Chinese government showed keen interest in signing the document during the prime minister’s visit which is testimony to the diligent efforts of both the countries to foster industrial cooperation.
He added that the Framework will expedite SEZs development and ensure relocation of Chinese industries to Pakistan through effective B2B matchmaking.
The story was originally published in Business Recorder on January 5, 2022.