Expansion of CPEC scope

2000

CHINA and Pakistan have agreed to further their cooperation in different fields under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during the ninth Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting of CPEC. Working groups in energy, transportation infrastructure, industrial cooperation, Gwadar Port and social-economic sectors presented reports about progress so far made in these areas and the two sides reached a series of agreements.
The understanding reached to set a new direction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for future cooperation in high economic impact areas by largely shifting away from infrastructure projects, except the $9 billion Mainline-1 projects is welcome in that it represents firm commitment of the two countries to continue implementation of the mega project despite external pressure and conspiracies. The decision to expand the scope of CPEC to copper, gold, oil and gas sectors is understandable as proper exploitation of these resources has the potential to address financial and economic woes of Pakistan both on short and long term bases. However, shifting of focus from infrastructure projects would not be a wiser option as creation, upgradation and modernization of infrastructure has deep relevance to economic growth and development. No meaningful increase in industrial and agricultural activities is feasible without ensuring quality infrastructure to prospective investors. It is good that Mainline-I project aimed at upgradation and modernization of railway system is now seeing light of the day after four years delay but other ongoing projects should also be completed with speed as delays and stoppage of work and funds is increasing their cost. There should also be greater focus on fast-paced establishment of special economic zones especially when the Chinese are willing to consider proposals for shifting of their industries to these zones. The Prime Minister may like to personally monitor progress on setting up of these zones and remove bottlenecks so that the country could reap the benefits of rapid industrialization.