CPEC to cure trade deficit: Khusro [DailyTimes] 08 Apr, 2019

ISLAMABAD  –  Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar stated that the issues of trade deficit, poor market access to Pakistan’s agricultural products and limited business bases will be addressed via increased industrial cooperation between China and Pakistan. The federal minister was co-chairing a meeting of CPEC Business Council along-with Advisor to PM on Commerce, Industry & Textile Abdul Razak Dawood on Friday. Secretary to the Council, Executive Director General BOI Ms Fareena Mazhar briefed the members on the progress in SEZ’s and incentive packages under the industrial cooperation.The minister further highlighted the reason for establishing this forum: To create an interactive platform between the business community and the government as well as enhance cooperation between the two regional friends. “Through industrial cooperation, we also want to address trade imbalance, broaden market access for agricultural products and encourage B2B cooperation between the two countries,” stated the minister.After the implementation of the early-harvest projects which centered on energy and infrastructure, the upcoming focus was on overcoming trade imbalanceKhusro argued that scope of CPEC has expanded with focus on industrial and agriculture cooperation, socio-economic development, trade and market access. He was optimistic that creation of CPEC Business Council, with input from private and non-governmental agencies in various areas, will speed up the industrialization process under the umbrella of the flagship endeavour. The minister said that focus is on boosting Pakistan’s industrial capacity through joint ventures in priority areas, relocation of labour-intensive export led industry, SMEs collaboration and enhancing vocational training capacity.Advisor to PM Abdul Razak Dawood explained that after the implementation of the early-harvest projects which centered on energy and infrastructure, the upcoming focus was on business investment, broadening market access and overcoming trade imbalance. He added, “We are in the second phase of CPEC where industrialization and agriculture growth would be the main goals of the current regime. Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have been the engine of growth for many developing states around the world for the last few decades and it’s the high time for Pakistan to convert its SEZs into growth hubs.”The advisor hoped that SEZs would attract investment from diversified sources because they offer a combination of tax-and-tariff incentives, streamlined customs procedures and less regulation. To overcome the countries trade deficit, the focus was on the production of finished goods.Earlier, Board of Investment Chairman Haroon Sharif welcomed all the members to the first meeting of the council and said that BOI will serve as Secretariat for the CPEC Business Council adding that a dedicated team of professionals has been hired in this regard. He said that BOI is improving its capacity to deal with matters of industrial cooperation with China and urged the members to come up with tangible suggestions in this regard.
Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan, Project Director CPEC Hassan Daud and representatives from leading associations and companies also attended the meeting.

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