Pakistan and China are poised to ink a pivotal pact during the upcoming Belt and Road Forum (BRF), allowing for the participation of third parties in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
The move comes after a year-long ban on public announcements regarding third-party involvement. Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) made it clear that as per policy, pronouncements on third-party participation are to be made only after mutual consultation and consensus.
In a letter written by the Director General (China) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is mentioned that there have been several instances regarding third-party inclusion in CPEC. The letter says that the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee has entrusted the Joint Working Group on International Cooperation and Coordination (JWG-ICC) with the responsibility of managing all matters related to the prospective inclusion of third parties in CPEC initiatives.
This announcement follows a detailed briefing by MoFA on September 22, 2023, which outlined the progress achieved by the JWG-ICC, a group formed in 2018 with the primary objective of fostering a conducive international environment to facilitate the development and promotion of CPEC. Since its inception, the group has convened four meetings, with the fourth one scheduled for this year.
Sami Saeed, the caretaker minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, expressed his satisfaction with the progress made by the JWG-ICC. He emphasized the significance of finalizing Modalities/Terms of Reference (ToRs) for third-party involvement in CPEC projects and directed that these matters be concluded expeditiously for signing during the forthcoming Belt and Road Forum.
This imminent agreement to permit third-party participation in CPEC projects underscores the continuing commitment of Pakistan and China to advancing economic cooperation and expanding the scope of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The Belt and Road Forum 2023 is expected to serve as a prominent platform for the formalization of this crucial arrangement, with potential implications for the future of regional and international trade and development.