ISLAMABAD - Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday hoped that after finalisation of revised Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and China, the trade balance between the two countries was likely to improve in Pakistan’s favour.

He said as a result of cooperation in agriculture sector, Pakistan would fetch an opportunity to export agricultural products including grains, cotton, sugar, fresh vegetables and fruits to China.

The deputy chairman Planning Commission was talking to a delegation of Chinese journalists who called on him here. Aziz said the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping gave new dimensions to Pakistan-China relations.

He said the Chinese vision of One Belt One Road (OBOR) has increased global connectivity. He said China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was the flagship project of OBOR and was being actively pursued due to commitment of leadership of both countries.

The investment value of first phase of CPEC projects had reached to over US$30 billion while overall investment had exceeded $60 billion, he said adding, the Long Term Plan of CPEC was approved by the Joint Coordination Committee on CPEC last week which would provide new foundations to Pak-China relations.

He said Long Term Plan of CPEC was an important element of Pakistan's proposed 12th five years plan.

Sartaj Aziz said due to construction of CPEC routes, the less developed areas of the country would enter a new era of development.  Due to industrial cooperation between the two countries, the Chinese industries are shifting to Pakistan which would help boost business activities in the country, he added.

He said the establishment of nine industrial zones under CPEC would bring industrial revolution in the country and not only industrialists from the two countries but from across the world would be able to establish their industries in the zones.

He informed that the government had formulated a very liberal investment policy to promote foreign direct investment in the country.

CHINESE ENVOY CLARIFIES

MISPERCEPTION ABOUT

GWADAR FREE ZONE

INP adds: Deputy Head of Mission of the Chinese embassy Lijan Zhao here rejected the impression that the Chinese companies would get 91 percent profit out of the Gwadar Economic Free Zone.  

“This is totally misperception. The port is under operational stage, and the question of profit does not arise. It is being built on the basis of build, operate and transfer (BOT).

Meanwhile, an employee of the Chinese company that was developing the Gwadar Port and the Gwadar Free Zone in Pakistan said that the company had fully considered the interests of Pakistani side and had also agreed to share revenues from those projects although it wasn't originally required to do so.

The employee from the China Overseas Ports Holding Co (COPHC) said the company had agreed to turn over 9 percent of the revenues from the Gwadar Port as well as 15 percent of the revenues from the Gwadar Free Zone to the Pakistani side. The employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was responding to reports by some Pakistani media outlets on Friday that Pakistani Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Bizenjo said 91 percent of the revenues from the Gwadar Port, which was part of the CPEC, belonged to China, and the Gwadar Port Authority would only get 9 percent for the next 40 years.

The COPHC employee said that common international rules regarding BOT projects did not require the operator to share any revenue from the projects during the investment and operation period with the eventual owner.

The employee called on Pakistani officials and the media to give clearer information to avoid misleading the public. "Since taking over command of the Gwadar Port and Gwadar Free Zone, COPHC has invested a huge amount of capital ($270 million as of now). But the company still faces large losses because the infrastructure, including roads, water and electricity weren't put in place as the Pakistani side had promised," the COPHC employee said.

"At present, the operation of the Gwadar Port and Gwadar Free Zone is quite difficult and needs huge investment. Thus, we hope the Pakistan government can create a sound external environment for Chinese companies to support them fully in the development and operation of the Gwadar Port," he continued.

The contract for construction and operation of Gwadar Port was signed between the Pakistani government and a Singapore company. But during an eight-year period, the Singapore side didn't make any investment. As a result, the port didn't start commercial operation.