Planning and Development Minister Khusro Bakhtiar on Sunday said that Pakistan is facing a trade deficit of $9 billion. He said the deficit would reduce with the economic zones being set up after the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) becomes operational.

The Economic Zones would help increase exports, which would in turn decrease the trade deficit, he said while talking to the media persons at the Press Information Department regional office.

The Minister maintained that 19 per cent reduction in the trade deficit was recorded last month because the volume of exports had jacked up and that of imports receded.

He said China and Pakistan would also start working jointly on the agriculture sector in next month.

China, he said, would also provide $1 billion grant to Pakistan in next three years, while around 100 Chinese investors would soon visit the country to explore investment opportunities in various sectors.

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Khusro said Pakistan and China had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on industrial cooperation on December 20, 2018.

The PTI led government, he said, had decided to take CPEC into a new phase by widening its scope. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China was focused on strengthening of Pakistan’s economy, he added.

He told that the government was also taking effective measures to reduce the current account deficit, besides prioritising facilitation to the export-oriented industries.

The minister said initially the agriculture sector was not included in CPEC. However, the incumbent government convinced China to also extend its cooperation in the vital sector.

“China has a share of $7 billion in the global trade of agriculture and livestock and $3 billion in fisheries, but Pakistan has none in the two sectors”, remarked Khusro.

Pakistan, with the cooperation of China, was working on elimination of poverty as latter had successfully pulled 700 million people out of poverty.

A pilot project on the Chinese pattern would be initiated, which definitely would help to reduce poverty substantially, he hoped.

To a question, he said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had shown keen interest in the establishment of an oil city in Gwadar.