Islamabad: According to information available, it has been disclosed by officials that Pakistan and China will not permit any other country to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by 2020 till the completion of energy and industrial projects is ensured.
Both countries are working on $35b worth of energy projects under CPEC corridor and membership of it will only be opened to countries like Iran, Central Asian states, Middle Eastern nations once the projects are complete.
Pakistan hasn’t extended official invitations to any of these countries to join CPEC till now as the country has reached an agreement with China not to make nation part of CPEC till 2020.
Under CPEC, work on industrial, infrastructure and communication projects is being carried out by China and has shown an interest of making investments in duty-free zones along the corridor.
Out of thirty-seven duty free zones, nine are being offered to China under the CPEC corridor.
A meeting was held by a Chinese delegation with Board of Investment (BOI), Petroleum, Water and Power divisions of Pakistan on their visit recently.
In a meeting with BOI, the Chinese delegation laid forth the demand of being provided pieces of land on 99-year leases, providing examples of Belarus and Cambodia which had also assigned China on the same level, they said.
However, Pakistani officials showed their reluctance and refused to respond to such a request, as they felt this raise a hue and cry across the country.
After discussions concluded, it was decided that expert groups would be constituted to evaluate the Chinese demands and initiate work on duty-free zones.
The officials revealed that the Chinese were going to take control of one out of nine prioritized zones on a trial basis, where they may enter into a partnership with the private sector or work on an independent basis. They added that the Chinese had desired to have total control over these projects and weren’t keen to see other countries joining CPEC corridor.
Officials from the Petroleum division while meeting the Chinese delegation apprised them that not a single oil and gas sector project was under CPEC. They raised their concerns that the Chinese focus was entirely on power, railway and road schemes only and oil and gas sector had been sidelined.