CPEC: A game changer and win-win project for all

A bird's eye view of Gwadar port city
A bird's eye view of Gwadar port city

Landmark project set to transform Pakistan's economy with multi-billion dollar investments in infrastructure development, industrial and manufacturing facilities

By Muzaffar Rizvi

Published: Tue 23 Mar 2021, 4:23 PM

Last updated: Wed 31 Mar 2021, 6:40 PM

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is shaping up fast as both the governments want to make the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) a great success that will bring peace and prosperity to the region.

Under the over $60 billion CPEC project, various developments worth $53 billion have already been identified and work is on different stages of completion while 17 projects worth $25 billion have been completed since the inception of CPEC in 2015.

According to a recent report of China Radio International, CPEC projects have created 55,000 direct jobs in the road infrastructure sector, of which 48,000 have been created specifically for resident Pakistanis.

"Overall, 2.3 million jobs are expected to be created between 2015-2030, resulting in more than 2.5 per cent annual rise in GDP of Pakistan.

The CPEC is estimated to generate Rs6 billion to Rs8 billion per annum just in taxes as roads and bridges toll," according to another report.

Imran Khan, Pakistan Prime Minister, repeatedly vowed that the government would complete the ambitious CPEC project at any cost as it has become inevitable for the economic turnaround of the country.

"The corridor is a manifestation of Pakistan-China friendship and the government will complete it at any cost and bring its fruit to every Pakistani," Khan said.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan's Foreign Minister, said that the CPEC is a 'quintessential' connectivity project that contributes to regional prosperity. He described the mega-development project as a hallmark of Pakistan's all-weather strategic cooperative partnership with China.

Bright future for Pakistanis

Analysts, government officials and economists said completion of infrastructure, construction of industries and elimination of energy shortages under CPEC projects will guarantee a bright future for Pakistan and the country will emerge as a strong economic power of the region.

"The CPEC will prove to be a catalyst for socio-economic development of Pakistan and the region," they said.

Economists said the importance of CPEC projects have also increased manifold in view of the rising inflation, persisting unemployment and global economic recession due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

They further opined that the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) planned under the umbrella of CPEC are basically meant to relocate Chinese industry and investment to Pakistan that will help generate job opportunities in the country and set up large-scale manufacturing units of different products.

"In the next phase, industrial cooperation is the focus of CPEC's construction and development. It will not only benefit Pakistan's economy but will also offer investment opportunities to other nations because of the strategic importance of the project," they said.

Linking neighbouring countries

As per senior Pakistan government officials and ministers, countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, key Middle East nations and some Western countries have shown interest in investing in the industrial zones.

Moin ul Haque, Pakistan Ambassador to China, has said the second phase of the CPEC will help create linkages with the neighbouring countries and bring more prosperity to the region. 

In an interview with Xinhuanet, China's official state-run news agency, recently, he said Pakistan is developing remote and underdeveloped area through industrialisation, social-economic progress and poverty alleviation in the second stage that will further focus on industrialisation, agriculture, modernisation and socio-economic development.

"The basic philosophy of the Belt and Road Initiative is development, economic prosperity, social progress, creating jobs and connectivity. All the projects of BRI are aligned with the vision of the government of Pakistan, which is people-centric," the ambassador said.

Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said the CPEC is an important pilot programme under the BRI and it is an open initiative, based on the principles of joint consultation, shared contribution and shared benefits.

"We hope relevant countries and international organisations can take part in the building of CPEC and sharing the benefits of BRI," Lijian said at a regular media briefing recently.

Asim Saleem Bajwa, Chairman CPEC Authority Lieutenant General (Retd), said that the CPEC project has significance for the stability of the country's economy.

Pakistan an attractive market

Fawad Hussain Chaudhry, Federal Minister for Science and Technology, said the CPEC has a huge future and Pakistan has become an attractive market for Chinese investors.

"Under the CPEC, 11 special economic zones are being established which will promote industrialisation in the country," the minister said.

"We plan to uplift our semi-conductor industry and bring value addition to our products with the cooperation of Chinese friends. We have approached the Chinese companies to shift their solar panel manufacturing units to Pakistan," he said recently at a seminar in Islamabad.

Shibli Faraz, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, said the CPEC is a game-changer project not only for Pakistan but also for the entire region, based on the idea of shared development.

"Majority of the projects planned in the construction, infrastructure and energy sectors have been carried out successfully and many are in the execution stage," the minister said.

He said major CPEC initiatives include the construction of road networks, extending from Gwadar Port to Khunjerab Pass, up-gradation of ML-1, power projects of 10,000 megawatts and Gwadar-Nawabshah pipeline to transport gas from Iran.

"The projects in the existing and newly established areas will enhance the capacity of Pakistan ultimately improving the economic competitiveness of Pakistan," Faraz said.

Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to the Prime Minister for Commerce and Investment has said that the CPEC is moving towards a new direction of industrial and agriculture development.

"The government would facilitate at the maximum level to ensure the establishment of large-scale manufacturing units and information technology zones under CPEC," Dawood said while addressing the first meeting of the recently re-constituted China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Business Council in Islamabad.

The government officials said international investors could easily avail the opportunity to identify and select the potential locations to set up their units in SEZs along with CPEC projects. They said the government will leave no stone unturned to facilitate them to make CPEC a great success.

What is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor?

CPEC is a flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect Asia, Africa and Europe through a vast network of highways, rail lines and sea lanes. The multi-billion-dollar corridor connects the Chinese city of Kashgar with Pakistan's Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea. The CPEC would link Gwadar Port to China's western Xinjiang region. It also includes plans to develop an oil pipeline.

The CPEC could also be linked with the Wakhan Corridor that was a 76-kilometre-long boundary and corridor for access to not only Afghanistan but also the Central Asian states.

Why is Gwadar important?

Gwadar Port city has the potential to surpass the international port cities as it could be interlinked with the whole region including Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC), Iran, Turkey and Middle Eastern countries on one side and Afghanistan, China, Central Asian states and beyond to Europe on the other side.

Under the CPEC project, Gwadar is going to become a hub of economic activities with the Middle East and North Africa region.

- muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com




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