ISLAMABAD               -             A delegation of Chinese National Development and Reforms Commission (NDRC) is likely to visit Pakistan in April to review progress on various CPEC projects.

The main focus of the NDRC visit will be cooperation in Social Sector Infrastructure Development and ML-I, official source told The Nation here.

The Chinese government had agreed to provide up to $1 billion grant for socioeconomic development and poverty reduction projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China has completed several energy and infrastructure projects during last five years under CPEC umbrella and now both countries are about to enter a new phase of cooperation with focus on the execution of social sector infrastructure projects, SEZ and ML-I.

In November 2019, Vice Chairman National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC) Ning Jizhe had visited Pakistan along with a huge delegation for participation in the 9th JCC meeting. During his visit, Vice Chairman NDRC also inaugurated the 300 MW Coal Power Plant.

Railway project ML-I will also be discussed during the NDRC delegation visit, sources said. The financing committee on ML-I, constituted during the 9th JCC, is working on financing terms and conditions and is likely to finalize its recommendation soon, said the source. At the concluding ceremony of the 9th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) of the CPEC the then Planning Minister, Khusro Bakhtiar had announced that the ground breaking of ML-I project will take place in next six months.

Meanwhile, a press statement issued here stated that Ambassador of Peoples Republic of China, Yao Jing called on the Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives Asad Umar here on Friday. Matters relating to CPEC and economic cooperation between the two countries in general, came under discussion.

The minister expressed his satisfaction at the progress of various projects under CPEC and said that the pace of implementation would be further accelerated in the weeks and months to come.

He said that the establishment and operationalisation of the Special Economic Zones is currently the top priority. The SEZ would enable setting up of joint ventures in manufacturing which would integrate the enterprises from both sides.

Asad Umar emphasized that it was important for Pakistani manufacturing industries to become part of the global value chain by partnering with the Chinese companies. The ambassador assured the minister that the Chinese side is keen to promote such relationships between businesses and manufacturing industries.

Collaboration in the agriculture sector was also discussed. Minister said that massive potential exists in agriculture sector in the country which can be achieved by modernizing and upgrading its various subsectors. He underlined the need to expand collaboration in agriculture sector, which is extremely important for Pakistani economy.

Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing expressed the hope that bilateral partnership between the two countries will be taken to new heights in future. The Ambassador appreciated Government of Pakistan’s efforts to fast track the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.