ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China have failed to reach to an agreement on a future road-map for industrial cooperation and a common agenda for holding the fifth meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
The failure to reach a consensus has further delayed the crucial meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The JWG meeting has to take place before convening the next JCC meeting, which is the 10th in sequence, officials in Ministry of Planning and Development said.
There are nine JWGs of CPEC that deal with every important sphere of economic cooperation. So far, seven groups have met while meetings of JWG on industrial cooperation and Gwadar have not taken place.
The Gwadar working group could meet in a few days but the meeting of industrial cooperation group might take place by the end of current month. Industrial cooperation is the lynchpin of the second phase of CPEC.
The Foreign Office had tentatively scheduled the 10th JCC meeting for the end of October but later delayed it to mid-November.
JCC meeting could take place in the next three to four weeks, said Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar while talking to media.
He said that JWG meetings were “almost completed” and both sides were considering whether to hold face-to-face meeting or meet remotely due to the Covid-19 situation.
The minister said that Pakistan was also keen to make progress on an agreement on financing the Mainline-I project of Pakistan Railways during the 10th JCC meeting.
Total cost of the project is $6.8 billion and Pakistan is seeking $6.1 billion in Chinese loan, according to a decision taken by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec).
JCC is the highest decision-making body of CPEC, which is co-chaired by Pakistan’s minister for planning and development and the chairman of China’s National Development and Reforms Commission (NDRC).
JCC makes decisions on the inclusion of any new project into the CPEC framework and also takes stock of project implementation.
In 2014, Pakistan and China had announced that they would deepen their economic and strategic cooperation through CPEC, which is the pilot project of the trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative of the Chinese president.
Pakistan and China were successful in showing progress during the first four years of CPEC implementation and implemented nearly $25 billion worth of projects. However, things started slowing down after 2018 and there has hardly been any progress in the past two years.