Pakistan among first countries with whom China is inking Free Trade Agreement: Top Chinese envoy
ISLAMABAD - China's Acting Ambassador to Pakistan Zhao Lijian says China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a flagship project under China's Belt and Road Initiative and the Chinese government is presenting it as the best practice under BRI framework.
In an exclusive interview with Radio Pakistan's Chief Correspondent Abdul Hadi Mayar, he said the largest number of projects have been completed under CPEC in a short span of time.
The Ambassador said eleven projects have been completed under CPEC during the last six years, and eleven others are under construction. Besides, he said, there are many other projects in the pipeline.
He said CPEC has four priorities, including power plants, infrastructure development, renovation of Gwadar Port, and industrial development.
Zhao Lijan said foundation for industrial development was laid during the last five years by addressing infrastructure and energy issues in Pakistan.
He said in the next stage, industrial development in Pakistan is being discussed.
The Ambassador said nine areas have been identified for developing Special Economic Zones across Pakistan.
He said three projects, including Rashakai, Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Park, and Dhabeji Special Economic Zone have been prioritized.
He expressed confidence that groundbreaking of Rashakai Special Economic Zone will be performed soon after Prime Minister Imran Khan's ongoing visit to China.
Zhao Lijian said Special Economic Zones will significantly contribute to overall economic development of Pakistan by enhancing its foreign exchange reserves and exports.
The Acting Chinese Ambassador said on conclusion of the ongoing Belt and Road Forum, the two countries are likely to sign joint statement on Main Line-I project of doubling railway line from Karachi to Peshawar.
To a question, he said CPEC is a project of regional economic development and any third party participation will be welcomed in it.
He said third party participation is already involved in CPEC in form of funding of Karot Hydropower project by World Bank and engagement of Qatari companies in various projects.
Responding to a question about the second phase of Free Trade Agreement, which is likely to be finalized between the two countries soon, Zhao Lijian said Pakistan is among the first countries with whom China is signing Free Trade Agreement.
He said the two sides have been engaged to upgrade the existing FTA, and to this effect, the eleventh and last round of talks is going to take place.
The Ambassador said under the new FTA, Chinese government is offering ninety percent of market share to Pakistanis goods into Chinese market. He said China is asking for sixty-five percent of the market access to Pakistan at zero tariff rate. He said the new FTA is very much in favor of Pakistan.
Answering a question about the ongoing Belt and Road Forum in Beijing , the Ambassador said the objective of the forum is to develop consensus among stakeholders how to push forward Belt and Road Initiative.