Rashakai SEZ enjoys unique competitive advantage | By Sultan M Hali


Rashakai SEZ enjoys unique competitive advantage

THE establishment of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Rashakai under the aegis of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will boost industrialization and create more jobs in Pakistan.

The project has received unprecedented response from both local and foreign investors as 1800 investors have applied against the available 1000 acres land demanding thousand acres land for the establishment of industrial units in the zone.

A Chinese Company is also going to make an investment of US $466 million in the Rashakai Special Economic Zone.

Besides, with an investment potential of Rs 4000 billion, the project would generate thousands of employment opportunities for the local population.

Rashakai is one of the around 37 zones that have been proposed as SEZs in all provinces of Pakistan announced under CEPC.

Later, the establishment of nine special economic zones including RSEZ at Nowshera, Dhabeji, Bostan Industrial Zone, Allama Iqbal Industrial City Faisalabad, ICT Model Industrial Zone Islamabad, Industrial Park Pakistan Steel Mills Port Qasim, Mirpur Industrial Zone AJK, Mohmand Marble City and Moqpondass in Gilgit-Baltistan were prioritized.

Rashakai SEZ is enjoying a unique competitive advantage due to its close proximity to the first juncture of CPEC route, close location with Peshawar, Islamabad Airports and ML-I besides a significant resource and manufacturing base, making it an attractive destination for domestic and international investors to capture local and international markets.

According to the Board of Investment (BOI), the Rashakai SEZ, also known as the REZ will pave the way for the establishment of new zones, which will lead to a prosperous and industrial Pakistan.

The BOI informs that while the various zones are being prepared for business, REZ is gearing up to handle Fruit and Food processing and Packaging along with Textile stitching and knitting.

Dhabeji project is working on the feasibility of industries to be included. The Bostan Industrial Zone will comprise Fruit processing, Agriculture machinery, Pharmaceutical, Motor bikes Assembly, Chromite, Cooking oil, Ceramic industries, Ice and Cold storage, Electric Appliance and Halal Food Industry.

The Allama Iqbal Industrial City, which has been planned as the largest SEZ, will include the industries comprising Textile, Steel, Pharmaceuticals, Engineering, Chemicals, Food Processing, Plastics and Agriculture Implements.

The Islamabad Capital Territory Industrial Zone will provide for the industries pertaining to Steel, Food Processing, Pharmaceutical & Chemicals, Printing and Packaging and Light Engineering.

The Industrial Park at Port Qasim will house facilities to support Steel, Auto & allied, Pharma, Chemical, Printing and Packaging and Garments industries.

The SEZ at Mirpur will have a mixed bag of industries, the details of which are being worked out while Mohmand Marble City will cater to the marble industry.

The Moqpondass SEZ at Gilgit-Baltistan will address the industries of Marble, Granite, Iron Ore Processing, Fruit Processing, Steel, Mineral Processing Units and Leather.

The geographical proximity between Pakistan and China will help in populating SEZs as well as contribute to mutual economic gains.

For the REZ, at least Rs 3 billion have been allocated to provide 210 MW of electricity and 30 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) gas.

The timely construction and development of the zone will be possible with the provision of all the basic facilities required as the REZ is being constructed with the help of an investment worth Rs128 million, covering an area of 1,000 acres.

The REZ was designated as a special economic zone in August 2019 and portends prosperity for the region.

The China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zones Development and Management Company will jointly implement the Rashakai SEZ project.

According to the CRBC, the Rashakai SEZ project will play an exemplary and leading role in terms of the industrial cooperation between China and Pakistan, facilitating the high-quality development of CPEC.

A lot of homework went into the planning of the SEZs. One major requirement was the provision of uninterrupted power supply along CPEC routes.

Prior to initiating industrial cooperation, the government had already begun working with the Chinese on the types of benefits and concessions they would require.

A comparative study with other countries in the region was carried out to provide more incentives for all SEZs because the government is targeting long-term benefits.

Connectivity and access are the key components of the location of SEZs. An access road (3.2 km) from Wali Interchange to SEZ zero point is under construction (Phase-I).

Moreover, REZ is connected to all provinces of Pakistan through Airport (at a distance of 65 KM from REZ), Dry Port (65 KM), Railway station (25 KM), Motorway, Highway (5 KM) and city centre (15 KM).

The completion of the SEZs will provide a major enhancement in the uplift of Pakistan’s economy and will prove to be another fulfilment of the promise of CPEC to enable Pakistan to step up its industrial sector.

REZ will have the infrastructure of international standards including the facility of one window operation to support the industrialists.

The zone enterprises will have access to all amenities like water treatment plants, vocational training facilities, state of the art IT systems, security, uninterrupted water and energy supply.

The zone enterprises will relish the advantages of the expo centre in the residential area, which is planned by the Federal Government on an area of 50 acres to promote exports of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in particular and all over Pakistan in general.

Based on the strengths of the connected districts and resource pool, the economic zone has a predominant investment feasibility for industries in fruit & food packaging, textile, and auto manufacturing.

—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.

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