ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of China to Pakistan Yao Jing on Monday said that the Sino-Pak Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Phase II would be signed on 28th April.
Other important CPEC- related agreements will also be signed during China visit of the PM. He said the FTA had been finally concluded after eight years of negotiations and it would be inked by the commerce ministers of two countries during the visit of Pakistani prime minister.
Under the FTA-Phase II, Jing said, China would provide market access to 90% of Pakistani commodities at zero rated duty, while Pakistan would give China market access to 65% tariff lines.
He was addressing a press briefing here at the Chinese Embassy on the upcoming Second Belt and Road Forum to be held in Beijing from 25-27 April. The ambassador said world leaders, including heads of state and government from 37 countries, would attend the Forum’s roundtable summit, but Pakistan being a major partner of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was the most important of all.
“The Chinese Prime Minister and President are looking forward to the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China where he will also hold bilateral meetings with the Chinese leadership to build more consensus on bilateral trade ties,” he added. The Chinese envoy pointed out that China wanted a more prosperous and developed Pakistan as what he said without sustainable development in the neighboring countries, China could not sustain its development.
He said under the CPEC’s industrial cooperation, the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Rashakai was going to be inaugurated during the current month where 20 factories would be set up initially. He assured that employment in the SEZs would be given to the local people and the latest technology would be transferred from China to Pakistan.
Cooperation in industrial and social sectors would be the main focus of the second phase of CPEC, he added. “There are six areas in the social sector, including education, health, agriculture, water, irrigation, and poverty alleviation in which around 26 new projects will be initiated in Pakistan,” he said.
The ambassador said two model villages would be built in Pakistan under the social sector cooperation of CPEC to uplift the living standard of low-income segments of the society. He said China was basically an agricultural country and it started its development journey with bringing reforms in the agriculture sector. It would now help Pakistan in revolutionizing its agricultural sector by linking it with the state of the art technology.
With respect to the multi-billion Railway ML1 project, the envoy said as its technical aspects had already been finalized, the project would hit the ground soon. He also invited the neighboring countries to become part of the mega-project as it was not only beneficial to China and Pakistan but also for the whole region. To a question, Jing said 11 out of 22 projects had already been completed while the work on the remaining was going fast. In total $19 billion had been invested by China on all the projects, $13 billion lent as commercial loans and $6 billion as a concessionary loan to be repaid by the Pakistani government in 25-30 years.
To a query regarding the Karachi Circular Railway, the Chinese envoy said the two sides were working on its financial model. Many options of the financial model, including build-operate-transfer (BOT), loaning, and financing from own resources, were under consideration, he added. Regarding investment in Gilgit-Baltistan, Yao Jing said China was eager to upgrade and develop tourists sites in the area to provide facilities to local as well as foreign tourists.
Pakistan ‘always ready’ for dialogue with India: Qureshi
BISHKEK: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called upon India to sit on negotiating table with Pakistan for the sake of regional peace when a new government takes office in New Delhi after the general election.
In an interview, he said war always brought destruction and it could not be considered as an option, particularly when both the countries are nuclear powers.
Qureshi regretted that Kashmir is burning as India is trying to suppress the voice of Kashmiris through military presence and its black laws.
He, however, said the voice of Kashmiris cannot be suppressed in this modern era of electronic media and internet.
The minister noted that the Europe Commission and the United Nations had categorically stated that Kashmiris were fighting for their right to self-determination.
He said Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav had confessed that he was involved in subversive activities in Pakistan. “India wanted his release but he would be tried according to Pakistan’s laws.”
Book on China’s digital rural dev. strategy
BEIJING: The Outline of the Digital Rural Development Strategy, which was jointly issued by the General Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council, has been published by the People’s Publishing House.
The booklet is now available at Xinhua Bookstore outlets across China.
Europe’s scrutiny results prove Huawei “innocent”?
BEIJING: The results of Europe’s scrutiny on products by China’s Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. have proven the company’s “innocence,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Monday.
Spokesperson Lu Kang made the remarks in response to German media reports that years of scrutiny by Britain, Germany and the European Union (EU) have found no obvious “backdoors” in Huawei products, while security loopholes are often spotted in products made by Cisco of the United States, as evidenced by ten “backdoor” incidents exposed since 2013.
“We’d like to see the U.S. comment on the findings,” Lu said at a press briefing, adding that since the “Prism gate” incident, the U.S. has remained silent over evidence alleging its illegal practices of cyber attacks and thefts.
For the purpose of gaining competitive advantages, the United States, judging others using its own standards, has resorted to smearing tactics against other countries’ enterprises without providing convincing evidence, he said.
“The conclusions of Europe’s scrutiny have proven Huawei innocent, and showed the U.S. suppression against other countries’ enterprises with state power is unjustified,” Lu added