Naveed Aman Khan
Early next year will mark the completion of most awaited western and eastern routes of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. These two routes will connect eventually deep-sea port of Gwadar to the Chinese border. The eastern route will pass through Makran coastal highway, Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Multan, Lahore, Islamabad, Mansehra, Thakot, Raikot to Khunjerab while the western route will pass through Gwadar, Turbat, Bismah, Surab, Qalat, Quetta, Zhob, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Kohat, Peshawar and Islamabad onward.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor is all set to go into top gear in 2019 by establishing Pakistan’s first Special Economic Zone, multiple youth skills development plans and massive poverty alleviation schemes especially in Balochistan, Interior Sindh, South Punjab and Khyber- Pakhtoonkhuwa’s marginalized regions. The procedures of Special Economic Zone and socio-economic strategies have already been mapped out in Joint Cooperation Committee, highest forum and decision-making body of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Rashakai Special Economic Zone, flagship project of industrial development framework, is likely to see the light of the day within next few months. Located in M-1 Nowshera and spanning over one thousand acres, it will house the industry of fruit, food, packaging, textile stitching and knitting. While delegation of China Road and Bridge Corporation and Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry which met recently to see its potential in industries of metal processing, automobile, construction material, electronics and leather. It will be connected with airport, dry port, railway station, motorway, highway and city centre which is at 16 kilometers distance.
As per initial connotation of Rashakai Special Economic Zone which follows the spirit of 2013 incentive policy, Finance Bill 2016 and Gwadar free zone industrial policy, both Chinese and Pakistani investors will enjoy incentives of importing plant and machinery without customs duty. Government may share the payment of fifty percent markup on loans with investors to be investing in Special Economic Zone. They will be given level playing field to purchase land in Special Economic Zone. Mode of mechanism, in major cases, will be centered on a joint venture, a public-private partnership, private or public. It is highly likely that Special Economic Zone will set sixty-forty employability formula between Chinese and Pakistanis people.
The employment proportion may be seen in two infrastructure projects. The KKH phase II and Sukkar-Multan section engage seventy per cent Pakistani and thirty per cent Chinese workers.
Special Economic Zones policy approach is to develop backward and forward linkages with its local economy. There will be a thrust on connecting businesses in Special Economic Zones with local businesses and with technology transfer and skills development to revolutionize industrialization. Internationally, the first modern free-trade zone came into being at Shannon Airport, Ireland in 1959. China introduced a zone near Hong Kong in 1980. Four thousand three hundred Special Economic Zones are operational in today’s world. Two decades back, these were around five hundred.
Chinese government has put focus on poverty-alleviation sector employing pro-poor policies in those regions which remained under developed and under privileged during five years of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Seeking inspiration from Chinese’s miracle of lifting seven hundred million people out of poverty, CPEC will accelerate efforts to stamp out poverty. Pakistan has stepped up strenuous efforts for industrial cooperation framework agreement to revive manufacturing sector and industrialization through as many as nine Special Economic Zones. Pakistan imports goods worth US $ 20 billion from China. If Chinese companies install their units in Special Economic Zones, it will be win win situation for both Chinese and Pakistani manufacturers.
Pivot is on construction sector, agriculture, health paramedics business, Information Technology and hospitality, tourism, media related trades. They will also be provided experience in manufacturing industry which includes textile, home textile fabrics garments knitwear & hosiery, sports goods, leather goods glass ceramics, pottery and surgical instruments manufacturing. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will play its significant role in ‘Hunarmand Pakistan Programme’ and ‘Youth Skill Development Programme’ tapping less developed areas. China- Pakistan Economic Corridor is to divert development influx in Gilgit-Baltistan in 2019 by announcing a women university, cancer and cardiac hospitals, a medical college and hydropower projects. A 100MW hydropower project near Karakoram International University in Gilgit, an 80MW hydro-power project in Phander area of Ghizer and other such projects in the region will also help bridge energy gap in the poor region.