Hassan Daud Butt
China celebrated its 70th year of independence and perhaps its rise to global superpower status with a promise from President Xi Jinping that “no force can shake the status of this great nation”. This journey of growth and development is nothing but a miracle where more than 850 million Chinese were taken out of poverty, 1.3 billion are no longer threatened by food or clothing shortages and 770 million are employed.
This impressive advancement in recent decades gives China much to celebrate, it gives lot for us to be proud of and learn. In the same period the diplomatic relations of the two Iron brothers constantly moved on an ascending trajectory and gained strength and new heights. Today, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is developing a strong base for mutual cooperation between the two countries and is bringing us further closer. The Government of Pakistan is aware that it needs to seize the opportunity that China’s economic development offers and implement mutually beneficial development strategy and accelerate industrial cooperation and improve the level of connectivity. Learning from Chinese experience, Pakistan has the potential to grow as dynamically as China and any successful East Asian economies.
To fulfill this promise, we need to take a multilateral approach to attract more FDI through transparency and openness. The PM Imran khan visit to China comes at a time as Pakistan enters into the 2nd phase of CPEC. In this second phase of expansion and development, processing and manufacturing industries will be developed giving new employment opportunities and significant improvement in the people’s livelihood so that by 2030 the endogenous economic growth can be in place. The visit is expected to further strengthen the partnership with new development vitalities that will make Pakistan the economic power it well deserves to be. PM’s vision for CPEC is clearly “One Corridor many doors” and during the visit new avenues will be explored that can be the stimulus to the resurgence of our economy.
The cooperation in energy is already contributing with around 5000 MW of energy injected into the system and over 2500 kms of highways being constructed both through PSDP and CPEC financing and Gwadar Port gearing for Afghan transit trade. Under the vision of PM Imran Khan, Pakistan has the aspiration to grow dynamically so as to eliminate poverty and achieve prosperity. The government is playing a facilitating role to overcome the externality and coordination issues and therefore is raising the CPEC authority to act the one window supporting the future growth by incorporating advices of all stakeholders in the decision-making process and utilization of all available resources to achieve optimal results. Similarly, Pakistan needs to consolidate cooperation through Chinese FDI where no domestic firms are currently present and encourage JVs between private enterprises and give support to scale up successful private innovations in new industries for import substitution and increasing exports.
The development of PSEZs also needs to be accelerated as these prioritized special economic zones at Rashakai, Dhabheji and Faisalabad can help overcome barriers to attract FDI, and encourage industrial clusters to jumpstart industrialization and structural transformation. The Visit of PM and his meeting with Chinese leadership is expected to help craft new plans for strengthening cooperation in both domestic and regional domain. While Kashmir will remain the focus as peace and security are the key guarantees of sustainable development, consolidating economic cooperation under CPEC will be next in the agenda on the interactions.
The new avenues of cooperation that may be discussed during the visit could be oil and gas sector, mines and minerals, new projects in agriculture and discussion on new poverty alleviation programs , ML-1 project and fast-track “industrialization cooperation” to attract Chinese industry relocation towards Pakistan to achieve diversification and continuous industrial upgrading. PM Imran Khan has time and again emphasized that “CPEC is great opportunity for Pakistan” and with this theme in mind the visit will be another mission for consolidation of set targets that will usher CPEC into new heights as the new era of China promises to be a new era for Pakistan.
Writer Mr. Hassan Daud is a Projects’ Management
specialist and has also served as diplomat in China and Vietnam.