Islamabad: Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said to Pakistan that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has entered into the second phase after completion of key projects in the first stage.
The envoy, while addressing the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) on Monday, said that the (CPEC) projects in energy and infrastructure sectors have either been completed or are near completion, The Express Tribune reported.
Completion of phase-I of CPEC had set a strong foundation for the second phase, which would focus on the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZ), strengthening trade and cultural ties through joint ventures and exchange of delegations, he said.
CPEC is a unique model of connectivity, trade, and development, which is an important part of the Belt and Road initiative, Yao added.
The CPEC, launched in 2015, is the flagship project of the multi-billion-dollar Border and Road Initiative (BRI) launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping that aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.
The Chinese envoy said that the private sector should come forward and help in strengthening trade links between the two countries. He also pointed out that Pakistan could act as a bridge between the East and West.
SEZ development has already entered an important phase and efforts are underway to ensure successful Pakistan-China industrial cooperation, he said.
Yao highlighted that China had granted duty-free access for export of 313 goods under the second phase of China-Pakistan free trade agreement (FTA).
This will help increase exports by tapping Pakistan's potential in agriculture, textile, food, minerals, engineering, and other sectors, he added.
Praising RCCI's role in promoting trade between the two countries, he said that the Chinese embassy would ensure cooperation to enhance the partnership between the Chinese trade agency and the RCCI.
China and Pakistan are not only friendly neighbours but are also two major ancient civilisations, which have maintained close ties in cultural exchanges and mutual learning, he added.