ISLAMABAD - China and Pakistan are likely to discuss third-party participation and extension of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan in the 11th CPEC Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) which is expected to meet in August.

Pre Joint Coordination Committee meeting was held on Tuesday here with Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives in chair to review the progress made in preparation for the 11th JCC meeting expected to be convened next month.

Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood gave a detailed briefing on the 3rd International Cooperation & Coordination JWG meeting held virtually on 22nd July 2022. Foreign Secretary was quoted as saying that China appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to provide a safe and smooth business environment and our leadership’s commitment to building CPEC with “Pakistan Speed”. Third-party participation and extension of CPEC to Afghanistan were also discussed. It was also pointed out that cooperation between thematic think tanks on both sides should be encouraged to further deepen the strategic economic cooperation under CPEC. The minister was also apprised of the activities that are planned to promote the CPEC narrative at the national and global levels.

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Power Division highlighted the agenda for the forthcoming 9th JEWG meeting scheduled to be held in the 1st week of August. It was informed that 1124MW Kohala and 700.7MW Azad Pattan HPPs as well as 1320MW Thar Coal power plant project will be taken up with the Chinese side in the next scheduled JEWG meeting.

A joint study for the future development of Thar Coal has also been made part of the agenda. The minister underlined that measures have been taken to provide sufficient power for Gwadar city, and stressed the need for renewable energy projects for Gwadar city development in the future.

11th JCC meeting expected to be convened next month

Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications (IC&T) also briefed the meeting on the agenda of the forthcoming 2nd JWG on IT with a focus on ICT infrastructure development, policy & regulations, human resource development, and Cyber Security. Ahsan Iqbal stressed the need for cooperation with China in the IT sector, as China has emerged as the leader in Artificial Intelligence, and cooperation with China in this field has enormous promise for Pakistan.

The meeting also discussed projects in the agriculture and socio-economic sector for the forthcoming 11th JCC meeting. In the agricultural sector, it was underlined that China’s expanding agricultural market provides significant potential for Pakistani exports. Modernisation and mechanisation of agriculture in Pakistan should be carried out in the context of CPEC, as well as other measures to enable agricultural development and tap into the Chinese market for the mutual benefit of the two countries. FMD and quarantine issues were explicitly emphasised as important hurdles in meat export to China by a representative from Ministry of National Food Security, who informed the chair that they are being addressed on priority with the Chinese assistance.

The minister concluded by emphasising the importance of the people-to-people exchange programme between China and Pakistan and how it may contribute to the economic development of the country. He instructed the Secretary Planning to devise a plan to boost exchanges under CPEC so that emerging leaders in every field experience the development in China, and internalise it for the development of Pakistan.