BEIJING/islamabad  -   Pakistan and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for industrial cooperation at the 8th meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) held here on Thursday.

The memorandum was signed by Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar and Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, Ning Jizhe who also co-chaired the JCC meeting.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Board of Investment Chairman Haroon Sharif, Ambassador of Pakistan to China Masood Khalid, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform Secretary Zafar Hassan, Balochistan Information Minister Zahoor Ahmed Buledi, besides concerned senior officials also participated.

The JCC meeting, first after the new government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan took charge this year, was held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere.

Both sides underscored significance of the CPEC for win-win cooperation. The two sides reviewed the progress achieved after the 7th JCC meeting and also conducted an in-depth discussion of the future pragmatic cooperation under CPEC.

They also reviewed the progress on the long-term plan for CPEC, energy cooperation, transport infrastructure, Gwadar and industrial cooperation.

The two sides expressed satisfaction over the progress achieved on projects relating to the energy cooperation and transport infrastructure while emphasising on the need to speed up the work on projects concerning Gwadar and industrial cooperation.

They also discussed the way forward for effective and timely implementation on various projects under CPEC.

The two sides discussed ways to implement the bilateral economic cooperation and further deepen the all weather strategic partnership of the two countries. They agreed to ensure smooth operation of the completed energy projects, accelerate construction in progress and make new progress in the field of energy, transportation, infrastructure construction.

They also reviewed the progress to further improve the cooperation mechanism and promote the construction of the corridor to industrial parks, social and people livelihood and other fields.

At the conclusion, the two sides signed minutes of the meetings of JCC and various working groups. It was decided that the next (9th) JCC will be held in Islamabad next year, the dates for which will be decided by the two sides through mutual consultations.

Meanwhile, expressing his views at the 8th meeting of the CPEC JCC which he co-chaired with Chinese Vice Chairman of NDRC Ning Jizhe, Federal Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar Thursday reiterated Pakistan’s firm commitment to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which he termed as the heart and soul of Pakistan-China economic cooperation.

Appreciating the progress made in CPEC, the minister said the stage was now set to take the corridor to the next level wherein the cooperation could be diversified to more trade and industrial cooperation, socioeconomic development, agriculture, people-to-people interaction and knowledge sharing under the clear vision set by Pakistani leadership.

He said cooperation in the industrial sector would help attract investment in special economic zones and encourage relocation of Chinese industry. Both sides agreed to cooperate to develop Special Economic Zones in a speedy manner.

In the next phase of CPEC, two sides also agreed to cooperate in the maritime sector, port development and automobile sector.  The two sides discussed promoting joint ventures and industrial relocation from China to harness Pakistan’s export potential.

The two sides also held the first meeting of the recently established Joint Working Group on socioeconomic cooperation which discussed a detailed action plan in six areas for future cooperation such as education, agriculture, poverty alleviation, skill development, healthcare, water supply and vocational training projects.

The two sides agreed on poverty alleviation demonstration projects in all regions of Pakistan. The first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Agriculture will take place early next year.

In his remarks, NDRC Vice Chairman Ning Jizhe said the CPEC served the fundamental interests of two countries and their people.

Calling the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China as “phenomenal success”, he expressed confidence that the Pakistan-China relationship would continue to grow and prosper.

Undertaking review of areas of cooperation under CPEC, the two sides expressed satisfaction and showed willingness to expedite work on all projects including Gwadar.

The minister said Gwadar was the jewel of CPEC and with the development of its auxiliary projects, it was poised to become the next big economic and transshipment hub of the region.

Meanwhile, NDRC Chairman, He Lifeng hosted a banquet in honour of the minister and his delegation at Diaoyutai State Guest House.