CPEC to revolutionise trade among South, Central Asia, China: Iqbal

BEIJING: Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal Wednesday said that completion of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would revolutionise trade ties between the Asian states by linking South and Central Asia, and China.

He expressed these views while meeting with Meng Fengchao, chairman of China Railway Construction Corporation here in Beijing.

Iqbal maintained that both sides reviewed progress on CPEC infrastructure projects including upgradation of Pakistan Railway’s ML-1 project.

The minister said that his government prioritises projects linking Gwadar to rest of the country and establishment of rail links from Quetta to Peshawar. Infrastructure projects would transform these remote areas into new urban centres, ensuring inclusive growth across Pakistan, he added.

Iqbal urged China Railway to ensure participation of Pakistani institutions in infrastructure projects. “China Railway Corporation should utilise existing industrial base and local production capabilities in railways and infrastructure projects,” he maintained.

China Railway Construction Corporation guaranteed to work in collaboration with Pakistani institutions and organisations. It was assured that Pakistani engineers would be given priority at every stage of the projects, and that Chinese side would work in line with Vision 2025 and CPEC Long Term Plan.

The minister maintained that Pakistan and China have agreed to upgrade and dualize Pakistan Railway’s main line (ML-1) from Karachi to Torkham, which would support fast-moving trains in future.

The first phase of the project is expected to hit the ground this year. The upgradation of the ML1 would not only improve existing railway infrastructure but would double the current speed and facilitate huge cargo transportation.

Earlier, while addressing the CEOs at Boao Forum on Monday, the minister said that CPEC is proving to be oxygen for Pakistan as the country’s economic growth increased due to the huge investment being made in infrastructure and energy sectors under the mega project.

He said that there is a broad consensus among all groups and political parties in the country to ensure the success of the CPEC.

Iqbal said under the CPEC, nine industrial zones were being constructed across the country which will create numerous new jobs.