ISLAMABAD -  Federal Minister for Planning Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal has said that industrial cooperation will feature prominently in the agenda of 7th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) scheduled to be held on November 21.

Private sector investment and business community has to play a lead role in materialising the phase of Industrial Cooperation under CPEC, Ahsan said while chairing a meeting on exploring business opportunities under CPEC. The meeting was attended by the presidents of all major chambers of commerce & industry from across Pakistan.

The minister said that this meeting aimed at taking the chambers and business community on board in order to incorporate their viewpoint and ensure a broad consensus with respect to development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) prior 7th JCC; informing that the FPCCI president will be specially invited in the upcoming JCC to represent all chambers and business community.

He further said that the task of government was to develop a policy framework, while the development and investment in CPEC SEZs has to be done by private sector and local business community. He reiterated that private sector has to play the role of engine of growth in CPEC and attract foreign investors from across the globe and seek joint ventures through multiple opportunities unleashed by CPEC.

He urged the chambers to proactively persuade the business community across the country to capitalise on the business opportunities under CPEC, adding that infrastructural improvement will encourage green field industrial set-ups, with focus on value additive industries that will provide real platform for competitive trade in global economy.

Addressing the participants, the minister said that Pakistan of today is different from that of 2013 when economy was badly deteriorated, local industries were almost non-existent and 18-20 hour loadshedding was order of the day. He said that CPEC has enabled Pakistan to overcome critical bottlenecks of energy and transport infrastructure, and the stage is set for Pakistan to enter the phase of industrial cooperation.

He further said that China serves a best example and success story of SEZs that have transformed their economy in a short time span. “CPEC, therefore, provides best opportunity for our business community to learn Chinese experience, seek joint ventures with Chinese companies and enable transfer of top-notch technology to the country,” he added.

He stressed on the business community to improve the competitiveness and ensure product quality innovation factor in the products, adding that value-addition be ensured in the products being produced. He said that business community should work closely with the provincial and federal governments and streamline development of economic clusters in order to ensure global competitiveness and link-up with regional supply chains.

He also asked them to focus on R&D activities for enabling business-to-business (B2B) linkages and development of high-tech service industry.

FPCCI President Zubair Tufail also addressed the meeting and deeply appreciated the government’s efforts towards boosting industrial cooperation and development of SEZs in thorough consultation with the business community and chambers. He said that Chinese companies are keenly interested in exploring business options with Pakistan’s business community and asked the provincial chambers to develop a contact mechanism for materialising linkages with Chinese businesses.

During the meeting, CPEC Project Director Hassan Daud briefed the participants on ongoing projects under CPEC portfolio while CPEC Board of Investment Director Abdul Samie gave briefing on SEZs and incentive package being offered to foreign and local investors for development of industrial parks and SEZs.