CPEC and Pakistan’s vibrant blue economy
THE coming week from the 23rd of this month till the 30th is being celebrated as World Maritime week.
The purpose is to spread awareness and insight not only among the populace but policy makers as well.
In this context and particularly with respect to Pakistan it is imperative to highlight how important is the blue economy to overcome Pakistan’s persistent economic predicaments.
Moreover, another thing that is not highlighted enough is the role that maritime security plays in the uplift of the maritime economy, particularly in the domain of CPEC.
In this backdrop, it is pertinent to highlight how conventional security paradigms have changed into non-conventional ones.
This in turn has led to the inclusion of the blue economy into its realm. Today the world is viewed through the lens of a strong economy of any country and the biggest proponent of a strong economy for a country is its blue economy.
In this particular context Pakistan is developing its blue economy through the lens of CPEC which is a harbinger of its strong maritime security.
Thus, to reap the benefits of the Maritime economy, it is imperative to have a secure and vibrant environment through robust maritime security policies. In this realm it is important to have better international cooperation and global ocean governance.
Maritime security talks about protecting the maritime domain from various threats be it; piracy, inter-state conflicts or transnational crimes. It is only then that the blue economy can reap benefits from its various sectors and accrue maximum benefits from the ocean.
Thus the blue economy is not only about growth but sustained economic output which in turn is only possible with a robust mechanism of maritime security.
Hence, it is suffice to point out that the progress Pakistan is making particularly in its blue economy domain via CPEC is only due to the strong maritime security provided by our defence forces across the board.
Over the years, Pakistan’s economy has been facing multiple perennial dilemmas now for many decades.
The major bone of contention has been its ever rising twin deficits; fiscal and current account deficits. Both of these have all but crippled its economy to its core.
The results have been low saving which ultimately lead to low investment and subsequently low levels of growth. To top this off, due to low exports, as Pakistan has been a consumption led economy and not one where production takes a lead hence; it inflates our imports resulting in high levels of current account deficit.
Both the Current Account deficit and the fiscal deficit have been to the tune of 6% to 7% respectively over the course of the last decade in Pakistan.
However, one major silver lining to many of these problems is CPEC. Blue growth in Pakistan can only gain currency on the back of CPEC, which is evident from the start of this mega multi billion project.
CPEC has become a force to gear a massive process of industrialization in the country and is cultivating its exports in the process.
Furthermore, it has not only strengthened the blue economy but has played an integral part in encouraging regional connectivity.
In this realm, the second phase of CPEC is absolutely key. The second phase of CPEC has started off with the development of Gwadar Free Zone (GFZ).
This free zone is expected to be 35 times bigger than the first one, thus reflecting how much interest Chinese and other investors are showing in this region.
Moreover, the second phase of the GFZ comprises 2200 acres of land, while the first one comprised only 60 acres of land.
This has also subsequently led to an increase in the water traffic for Pakistan, as 60,000 metric tons of cargo was transported this fiscal year, while the previous fiscal year was stagnant at 1300 metric tons.
All of these developments point towards Pakistan reaching its maritime potential of around $16 to $17 billion.
However, currently Pakistan’s Gross Marine Product (GMP) is an abysmal $1.5 billion. If we just look at our neighbours, Bangladesh and India are respectively accruing $5.6 billion and $6 billion respectively from their maritime economies.
Hence, it can be aptly observed that CPEC is revolutionizing our economy and elevating socio-economic crisis from Pakistan along with addressing our ever persistent economic aliments in the form of increased exports and revenue generation.
However, this is only possible due to the strong maritime security that is provided which is helping Pakistan to turn its economic fortunes around.