During sixth meeting of the Joint Working Group on Industrial Cooperation, China reportedly has agreed to consider Pakistan’s request for setting up a government owned Special Economic Zone aimed at reducing construction time and addressing financial issues.
According to the concept, Pakistan will offer free-of-cost land to China while investment will be made by Beijing to have a real plug-and-play zone.
In our view, this new government owned economic zone, if approved will be mutually beneficial for both the countries and give much needed impetus to industrial cooperation.
Provision of free land indeed is a big incentive to lure investment and one expects it will populate the zone with a variety of industries at a fast pace. The proposal of this zone was made following lack of progress on the nine prioritized SEZs.
During the last meeting of CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), Pakistani side had informed Chinese officials that funds were allocated for provision of electricity and gas at zero point of the Rashakai SEZ in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Allama Iqbal Industrial City SEZ in Punjab, Dhabeji SEZ in Sindh and Bostan SEZ in Balochistan.
However, these zones are still not ready for setting up factories. While the new SEZ proposal is welcoming which will further broaden the scope of multi billion dollars CPEC project, we are confident that China that always extended full support to Pakistan, will be forthcoming on the new SEZ as well.
At the same time it is also important to remove obstacles so that these prioritised SEZs become operational at the earliest.
Engagements should be enhanced with Chinese authorities and companies to address their concerns without further waste of time.
While ensuring provision of basic amenities, it must also be ensured that Chinese companies get the land at these prioritized SEZs at reasonable rates.
Higher prices will only keep investors at bay and our long cherished dream of industrial revolution will never come to fruition.
The success of these SEZs is of vital importance to increase industrial base in the country that will create immense job opportunities for our youth and also significantly enhance our exports.