“CPEC has a portfolio of projects in different provinces in Pakistan, depending upon their requirements and their areas of competency. And based on different comparative advantages, every province will develop its own cluster of industries,” said Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Planning and Development, in an interview with China Economic Net (CEN).
As the minister put it, such a portfolio will bring more investment and create more employment opportunities for the youth from that province.
Take Balochistan as an example. CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) is focusing on the development of Gwadar, where it also provides – besides developing the port infrastructure – facilities for medical care, education, technical education and livelihood of the locals.
“We are also working to provide clean drinking water to people of Gwadar and also a power generation station to generate electricity for the area,” Ahsan Iqbal further said.
“CPEC connects Pakistan with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China. And through BRI and CPEC, Pakistan can be linked with the global supply chains more easily,” the minister pinpointed.
At the moment, many jobs are being relocated from China to countries where cheaper labor is available. And Pakistan with the CPEC connectivity has a very good opportunity to absorb most of this relocation.
“We hope that when the special economic zones in each province are ready, they will attract considerable investment in the relocation of Chinese industry that will bring more job opportunities in the region and also help Pakistan move up on the industrialization part,” Ahsan Iqbal added.
In the second phase of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA-II), China has bought down tariffs to zero for Pakistan on 313 high-priority tariff lines. The new FTA, the minister noted, offered more opportunities for promoting trade between both countries.
However, the challenge faced by Pakistani businessmen and enterprises is to enter China with more information and knowledge about its market. Traditionally Pakistani enterprises have been doing business with Europe and the United States and they had little understanding of the Chinese market.