December 31, 2021 9:23:55 pm
All-weather allies Pakistan and China have agreed to use the full potential of the strategic Gwadar Port in Balochistan province, a major project under the CPEC that provides the Communist-giant an opening to the Arabian Sea.
The CPEC is the flagship project of China’s ambitious USD 60 billion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and it links China’s Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan province.
The decision was taken during a meeting between Pakistani and Chinese officials on Thursday via video link, according to a statement by China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority.
The two sides resolved to redouble the efforts to tap the full potential of Gwadar port and free zone as well as to make sure that the local population of Gwadar and surrounding areas fully benefit from these projects by utilising the massive opportunities being created in various sectors, according to the statement.
The sixth session of the Joint Working Group on Gwadar reviewed the implementation of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in Gwadar and also deliberated upon the future course of action with regard to development of Gwadar city, port and the free zone, it said.
The two sides reviewed the progress made on various projects, including full operationalisation of the Gwadar port and its inclusion in the Afghan Transit Trade route and vowed to redouble efforts to tap the full potential of the Gwadar Port.
The meeting also noted the completion of the project Gwadar Free Zone Phase-1, and start of work on the bigger Phase-II, covering an area of 2,221 acres.
The meeting emphasised on the need for finalisation of the marketing and investment plan for Free Zone along with its implementation strategy. The meeting was informed that the Plan would soon be submitted for consideration of the Cabinet Committee on CPEC.
The Pakistan side assured the Chinese investors, who made presentations during the meeting on their planned investments in Low Carbon Recycling Park, within the Gwadar Free Zone, of full support and cooperation for their ventures.
The meeting also took note of various operational issues faced by the projects during the course of the year, several of which were resolved through intervention of relevant authorities. Both sides resolved to address any remaining issues on priority.
The meeting was also informed that the Pakistan government was actively implementing various projects, in close collaboration with the provincial government to ensure provision of all the necessary facilities in Gwadar.
The projects include linking Gwadar to the national electricity grid; provision of water to Gwadar city from nearby dams; establishment of University of Gwadar and Gwadar Safe City project and certain other projects in the socio-economic domain.
The third meeting of the Joint Working Group on Socio-Economic Development was also held between the two sides to review the progress of current projects.
The group was established in November 2018 under CPEC framework to ensure that economic dividends of CPEC projects reach the less developed areas and peoples’ livelihood are improved.
Both sides expressed satisfaction on steady progress of the 17 fast track projects in the 1st Batch and 10 Priority projects under the 2nd Batch despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pakistani side shared the proposed 3rd batch of projects for consideration of Chinese counterparts. The projects were finalised after due consultations with stakeholders.
The meeting was attended by representatives of federal ministries and all the provincial governments, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan and 11 relevant departments of the Chinese government. The Embassies of the two countries also joined the meeting.
The CPEC is a collection of infrastructure and other projects under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013. Originally valued at USD 46 billion, the projects were worth USD 62 billion as of 2017.
India has protested to China over the CPEC as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
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