CPEC to turn AJK into Pakistan’s ‘economic engine’: Masood

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan has stressed upon the need to chalk out a comprehensive strategy to turn the liberated territory into ‘economic engine’ of Pakistan through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related projects.

He expressed these views while speaking as chief guest at a conference titled “Special Economic Zone – Future Prospects and Potential”, organised by CPEC Center of Azad Jammu and Kashmir University in collaboration with Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad on Tuesday.

The conference was also addressed by AJK University Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Kalim Abbasi and Director (Strategy) Special Economic Zones Hassan N Ansari among others.

President Masood said that one of the four mega CPEC projects have been completed in AJK while initial planning for two more projects has been worked out. Similarly, work on Mansehra-Muzaffarabad-Mangla-Mirpur highway would start from the next financial year, he added.

He urged universities, academia and media of the country to effectively counter-negate campaign against the CPEC initiative besides highlighting its socio-economic benefits.

Under the CPEC, nine special economic zones would be established across the country, including one in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir for which 1,185 acres of land has already been identified, said the president, adding that 571 acres of land would be acquired in the first phase and 614 acres in the second.

Sardar Masood Khan said that feasibility study including environmental study, topographic survey and other technical formalities for the Mirpur special economic zone have already been completed and handed over to the Chinese officials. Special incentives have been offered by the AJK government for investment in Mirpur economic zone, he added.

“These incentives include tax-free import of machinery and other equipment, construction of infrastructure, and permission to prospective investors to generate their own electricity to run the industries at local level.

President Masood said the government has set up a board of investment (BOI) to attract investment by local and foreign investors as well as overseas Kashmiris, and work is in progress on a comprehensive policy to protect capital of the investors and to restore their confidence.

While enumerating challenges and difficulties, the AJK president said that planning is under way to ensure an uninterrupted supply of natural and electricity to the economic zone, setting up a dry port, introduction of e-filing system and establishing a railway link between Dina, Jhelum and Mirpur.

He said that the government was trying to ensure speedy development works in special economic zones, resolve environmental issues on priority basis, and to take on board the local industrialists and small business.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Dr Abbasi shed light on efforts of CPEC center for the projection of economic corridor project. He also paid tributes to President Sardar Masood Khan for effectively highlighting the Kashmir issue at the OIC summit in Makkah.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also signed between China-Pakistan Study Center of ISSI and the Azad Jammu and Kashmir University, under which both the institutions will cooperate with each other in the field of education and research.

SOURCE: Express Tribune

Qureshi says CPEC will be completed at all costs

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Monday that whole nation is in favour of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and it would be completed just like the nuclear programme.

Qureshi, while speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, said that no objections are being raised on CPEC project and the whole nation is united on it.

The foreign minister praised efforts of security forces by taking timely action against terrorists to establish peace across the country.

Qureshi said that the project will increase opportunities for regional connectivity and bring prosperity to the region.

“Enemies cannot see us being a developed and prosper country. However, we will complete the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) just like our nuclear programme.”

He said, “the powers, which are willing to destabilise Pakistan, use facilitators [to carry out terrorist activities. I want to give a clear message to the enemies that the whole nation and parliament is united on CPEC. I want to give a message that we have complete our nuclear programme despite hurdles and Insha-Allah we will not let our enemies become successful [in their conspiracies against Pakistan].”

Qureshi further said, “Overall three bills are presented for South Punjab. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is with its promise to give its due right to South Punjab. I want to invite opposition for bringing a joint bill after making a committee on South Punjab.”

Earlier on Sunday, the foreign minister had said some forces wanted to destabilise Pakistan and harm the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

“Foes of Pakistan cannot see the CPEC making progress, offering greater connectivity and commercial activities to the region,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi said while talking to journalists in Multan.

Referring to the Gwadar terrorist attack, he said Pakistan would not blame any country without proper investigation.

To a question, the federal minister said the Pakistan Air Force would respond befittingly in case of any misadventure by India.

Talking about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement, he said the nation would have to think that why Pakistan had to approach the IMF.

“When the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government came into power, it came to know how much Pakistan’s trade deficit was. We had a total difference of Rs19 billion in imports and exports. There was no investment in the country and circumstances were growing worse,” he said.

FM Qureshi said the PTI government made efforts to control the situation. The trade deficit had increased enormously, he added. He said the government was trying to bring as many people in the tax net as possible.

Date: 14/5/2019

Source: Pakistan Today 

CPEC projects not facing any delay: Ministry of Planning

ISLAMABAD: A spokesman of Ministry of Planning, Development & Reform clarified a news item published in a section of press regarding delays in implementation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor Projects (CPEC).

The spokesman clarified that none of the CPEC projects is facing delay; rather Pakistan and China are agreed on the future trajectory of the CPEC and timely completion of its on-going projects.

The successful 8th joint cooperation committee meeting laid foundation for the expansion of CPEC to new heights. For future, joint efforts are underway, focusing on socio-economic development and accelerating cooperation in industrial development as well as agriculture.

MoU on the formation of JWG on Socio-economic development and MoU on Poverty Reduction has been signed during the Prime Visit to China in November this year.

Chinese Socio-Economic Development expert team visit is planned in the last week of this month to finalize the projects and its sites in already agreed six different areas, including health, education, water supply, vocational training, poverty alleviation and agriculture.

Recognizing the significance of Gwadar as an important node in cross-regional connectivity and the central pillar of CPEC, Pakistan and China are agreed to speed up progress on the Port and its auxiliary projects.

Groundbreaking of New Gwadar Airport, vocational institute and hospital are planned in the 1st quarter of this year. Gwadar Master Plan is being prepared and it is in the final stages of formulation. Huge investment is expected in the petrochemical sector at Gwadar.

Pakistan and China have expedited work on industrial cooperation under CPEC and the government has fast-tracked development of economic zones by prioritizing Rashakai, Dhabajhi Faisalabad and ICT SEZs with a vision to make 2019 as a year of industrial development under CPEC.

Pakistan and China have expedited cooperation in the field of agriculture with a special focus on enhancing cooperation in the areas of climate change, desertification control, desalination, water management, afforestation and ecological restoration, wetland protection and restoration, wildlife protection, forestry industry development, disaster management and risk reduction, and other areas of mutual interest.

A sub group has been elevated to a full-fledged joint working group and its meeting is planned to be held in the first quarter of this year.

Government promotes development of hydro energy projects and more projects based on indigenous sources are being added to CPEC portfolio.

Similarly, Process has been initiated to prepare an integrated plan in line with SEZs development aimed at facilitating logistics and transportation for the zones. It has been decided to complete modalities for all weather opening of KKH at Khunjrab.

ML-1 designs and scope are being firmed up jointly. Government of Pakistan has prioritized implementation of Western Route project with a focus to expedite development of D I Khan-Zhob and Zhob-Quetta sections in order to ensure uplift of less developed areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

The completion of two early projects of CPEC; Peshawar-Karachi Motorway (Multan-Sukkur) and KKH Phase II (Thakot -Havelian) are planned in August 2019 and March 2020 respectively but both the projects are expected to be completed ahead of its schedule.

Source: The News

Date: 2/11/2019

5 years of Belt and Road initiative: Chinese vision for shared destiny

Source: Daily Times

Date: 14 th December 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani youth needs to get the required knowledge and skills to be able to part of the emerging new vision of economic and political transformation of the growing world.

China and its phenomenon growth and peaceful rise provide ample example that with consistent efforts and hard work, achieving prosperity is not a distant dream but can be a reality. These were the consensus amongst the scholars speaking during the seminar on “Five years of Belt and Road Initiative: Chinese Vision of Shared Destiny” organized by Centre for Belt and Road and CPEC Studies-Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies.

Farhat Asif, Founder President, Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, speaking on the occasion the occasion said that Chinese model of shared destiny is rare and has all the essence to bring peace and prosperity in the region.

Dr. Muhammad Munir, Assistant Professor in National defense University said that BRI is open for states to join its project. Pakistan is main stakeholder in BRI which is dependent on the success of CPEC. Chinese concept is that investing on individual will prosper whole region. BRI will also benefit the common people. CPEC has made the trade most cost effective with its characteristic of trickledown effect.

While talking about Belt and Road Initiative Dr. Muhammad Khan, Head of Department in International Relations in International Islamic University said that Belt and Road has provided China access to market, Global economy and reach over Africa, Europe (the investment hub). BRI is Win-Win situation and states are finding benefit from this project. He was of the view that west instead of opposing and propagating should also get the benefit.

Ambassador ® Javed Hassan, Director, Chinese Studies Centre, National University of Science and Technology, while speaking on the Occasion highlighted at length about the wisdom and vision behind the BRI and how the Chinese nation has transformed them through hard worked. He has also discussed both Pakistan’s and Chinese perspective. He said that one may like it or not China has come a long way and this is a great moment of celebration that BRI has come so long way in just 5 years under all pressures and propaganda. China has achieved what took Europe 400 years. He has advised the Pakistani youth that they must learn the new emerging knowledge to foster forward the interest of Pakistan in the global world.

Balochistan cabinet shocked by CPEC presentation

Source: Dawn
Author: Khurram Husain
Date: December 11, 2018

KARACHI: The Balochistan cabinet was left shell-shocked at the end of a briefing on the progress of CPEC projects in the province when it was revealed that no progress has been made in any projects outside Gwadar and the meagre share of the province in the overall portfolio of CPEC projects.

The briefing was provided by the CPEC Cell that the Balochistan government has recently established with help from the World Bank.

Also read: Balochistan voices concern over its share in CPEC projects

According to a source who was present during the meeting on Monday, which lasted all day, almost four hours were spent on the briefing from the cell.

The major finding of the cell was that all projects connected with the western route have seen no progress whatsoever, and the overall size of the portfolio of CPEC projects in Balochistan is miniscule where less than 9 per cent of the total committed, around $5.5 billion, is for the province and less than $1bn has been spent in four years. Of this $1bn, around $200m is accounted for by the Hub power plant.

The cabinet members described the CPEC spending thus far as “a joke” and they blasted the previous government for its inaction.

In the energy sector, the cabinet was informed that the current shortfall of 700MW in the province means that all the new power injected into the grid as a result of CPEC power projects has not found its way to Balochistan and that Makran Division has still not been connected to the national grid.

Two projects negotiated by the previous government — Quetta Mass Transit and PAT feeder to Quetta water project — will both be revisited by the new government.

“The debt and liabilities of both projects will be borne by the Government of Balochistan and the costs revealed in the feasibility are very high,” according to the source.

The Quetta Mass Transit cost, for example, is $912m which is larger than the total development budget of the provincial government. The cost of land acquisition, displacement and resettlement and income tax and customs duties are not included in this figure.

For the PAT feeder, the water will need to be pumped up to an elevation of 6,000 feet across a distance of 280km to reach Quetta, using 9 pumping stations at different points across the pipeline. The project cost is Rs40bn, also to be borne by the Balochistan government.

Outside of Gwadar, the cabinet was informed that the roads of the western route have seen no progress, and more than half of the Balochistan component of the western route is still not officially part of the CPEC agenda.

Without the inclusion of these projects in the agenda of the Joint Working Group on Transport and Infrastructure, the projects are not eligible for concessionary financing from CPEC funding lines. The federal government has committed to fund these from its development budget, but thus far the allocated funds have not been released despite a passage of three years.

The cabinet members were also annoyed that the Hoshab-Basima-Sorab section of the road has been shown as part of the western route by the federal government even though this project began in 2006 and is part of the common alignment.

The cabinet members agreed that the Balochistan government will take a bold and firm line for their province in the forthcoming Joint Cooperation Committee meeting scheduled to be held in Beijing next week.

Hard-working Pakistani students claim a large share of Chinese universities scholarships

For many young people in Pakistan, the friendship between China and Pakistan is not just a slogan but a true emotion, as rising ranks of Chinese universities and job opportunities provided by Chinese firms have brought more and more Pakistani youth to further their studies in China.

“They [Chinese] welcome Pakistani people as brothers and sisters. So for me, China is heaven. China is the second home for Pakistani people,” said Muhammad Furqan Rao, a Pakistani PhD candidate at School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University, adding that he is quite satisfied with his study experience in Beijing.

Furqan noted to the Global Times that the rising ranks of Chinese universities, job opportunities offered by China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Belt and road (B&R) initiative, as well as a friendly studying environment provided by the Chinese government were big factors for him to study in the country.

Furqan is one of the many Pakistani students now seeking higher education in China. According to the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Beijing, the total number of Pakistani students studying in China reached 22,000 in 2017, making Pakistani students the third-largest group of overseas students in the country.

People’s Daily reported in May that currently 5,000 Pakistani students enjoy scholarships in China. It means that over 20 percent of Pakistani students studying in the country get a stipend.

Furqan said that in addition to scholarships, other alluring aspects are the improved reputation of Chinese universities, a friendly studying environment and a lower cost of living for Pakistani students in China.

According to the QS World University Rankings 2018, six Chinese universities are now in the Top 100, with three in the Top 50. Tsinghua University and Peking University are the Top 2 from China.

Pakistani PhD student at Peking University, Hamid Chohan, published six research articles on top international academic journals during his master’s degree program just to get into the distinguished Chinese university, under the Chinese Government Scholarship (CGS).

Pursuing a doctoral degree in Pure and Applied Mathematics at the School of Mathematical Sciences in Peking University, Hamid said 3,500 yuan ($541) per month, including accommodations, tuition fee and medical services are enough for his life in Beijing.

“Chinese Scholarship Council provides me with an opportunity, good facilities and a reasonable amount of money. In return, I am doing serious research and working hard,” he said.

Hamid’s colleagues (Usman, Hu Lan and Fei) say that he is a smart and hardworking researcher. When the Global Times interviewed him, he was fasting for Ramadan and hardly sleeping at night in order to study and conduct research.

As a result, the 28-year-old from More Eminabad Gujranwala, a city of Punjab Province in Pakistan, took only 22 months to complete his doctoral program, which should have taken four years. This sort of hardworking spirit partially explains why Pakistanis receive a higher amount of Chinese scholarships every year.

Zamir Ahmed Awan, a Sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan, wrote on China Global Television Network that Pakistani students enjoy a good reputation in Chinese universities. “Their English language skills are very good and research approach excellent; the majority of them are obedient, well-mannered and approachable… hardworking and persistent are two of their qualities.”

There are also an increasing number of self-funded Pakistani students in China, which gives credit to the B&R initiative as well as CPEC.

“After the launch of CPEC, there are more business opportunities, more job opportunities and more international companies coming to Pakistan, especially Chinese companies. So if people are studying in Chinese universities, they will have a wider scope in their life,” Furqan said.

CPEC is a framework of regional connectivity which has improved power, transportation systems with frequent and free exchanges of growth and people-to-people contact. Now it has moved to the second phase and will soon start with the establishment of Special Economic Zones that will directly aid the Pakistan population.

Furqan said that, before the launch of CPEC, Pakistanis were not aware of China’s educational system. “They only came [to China] to do MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery). After 2013, Pakistani people from all walks of life and from all majors have been coming here,” he added.

Civil engineering, material sciences and environmental sciences are the most popular subjects among Pakistani students in China at present, said Furqan.

After the B&R initiative was proposed in 2013, a greater number of Chinese corporations moved to Pakistan under the new initiative. Hence, the demand for Pakistani talents who have both professional knowledge and proficient Chinese skills is rapidly increasing. Studying in China and claiming a Chinese university degree on the CV are huge pluses among HR directors.

The CPEC Portal reported in 2017 that the largest transportation project under the CPEC, the 392 kilometer-long Multan-Sukkur Section, would create 9,800 local jobs.

According to the Confucius Institute in Islamabad, Pakistan, the number of candidates who took HSK (Chinese Proficiency Test) was 3,600 in 2017, over eight times the number in 2012 (437 candidates). Hamid agrees that people who can speak Chinese and who have firsthand experience living in China will have a bigger advantage in terms of employment.

“Employers are well aware that a deep understanding of Chinese culture and its market is a big plus for those who want to become the world’s next generation of leaders,” Hamid said.

During his stay in the US, Furqan was asked frequently why Pakistani people love China more than America. He told them that China’s religious freedom and the mutual understanding of each other’s cultures are major reasons.

“Beijing is like my second home because we can find so many mosques here to pray and to perform our religious duties… America is conservative in this regard. A few friends are studying in America, and they have a beard. They are facing different kinds of problems because the [police] check them randomly while they are walking on the streets,” Furqan said.

“I read a piece of news in Western media that Muslims are restricted from fasting or preying like this in China, but there is nothing like that; there are no restrictions for Muslims to fast or perform their religious duties in China,” he exclaimed.

According to Pew Research Center, 84 percent of Pakistanis have a favorable view of China and 80 percent consider China a partner to their country.

Despite some people holding a hostile attitude toward the B&R initiative and CPEC, Furqan defends these joint projects, stressing that they are no threat to Pakistan.

Instead, he emphasized their strategic importance. “Because of these projects, our country’s security is being improved day by day. As Pakistanis, we see the B&R initiative and CPEC as good for the development of Pakistan and other regions as well,” he said.

He also hoped CPEC will open doors in the future to bring the two nations much closer with each other.

Furqan’s friend, Nishat Kazmi who is currently a Yenching scholar at Peking University, echoed this statement, saying “I think it represents another opportunity in the wake of anti-globalization sentiment being expressed in certain parts of the world. The B&R initiative presents an opening-up opportunity for the world, an opportunity to being committed to the idea of free, fair and mutually beneficial trade.”

SOURCE:http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1107687.shtml

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CPEC: transport or economic corridor?

Three CPEC routes are expected to form an impressive transport corridor connecting China to the Arabian Sea. If the Chinese start using these routes to trade with Middle East and North African countries, CPEC will turn into a cross-border trade and transit corridor. With enough traffic, we might also get some toll income. But the real returns are to be expected for Pakistan, only if CPEC truly becomes a vibrant economic corridor. how can we make it happen? Merely by creating a few special economic zones? And what is an economic corridor anyway?

Trade corridors have been in existence for centuries, with famous Silk, Spice and Incense routes connecting the Orient with the Occident. Trade corridors depict movement of goods and services in specific geographical patterns. Transport corridors, a most recent phenomenon, generally refer to a linear area, connecting two or more economic centres and often employing a combination of surface transport networks such as road and rail.

Economic corridors however are a wider concept. They represent not just connectivity and trade but also widespread economic activity in a geographic area, in the shape of industrial and economic clusters, connected markets, and a network of economic centres. Connectivity is a prerequisite for establishing economic corridors but not sufficient.

History shows that transport corridors do transform into economic corridors through gradual development, urban agglomeration and increased trade and economic activities, leading to formation of new settlements and economic clusters. This however takes time. The present Grand Trunk (GT) Road is an example of a trade and transport route turned into a vibrant economic corridor, with numerous urban centres and economic clusters along the route. This route however has been in existence for more than two millennia, upgraded by Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century.

If we could wait for centuries, CPEC might transform into a vibrant economic corridor on its own. But if we want it sooner, we need to catalyse this process through a well thought-out strategy.

Firstly, it is important to realise that economic corridor is not a linear concept, meaning thereby that CPEC, besides connecting China to Gwadar, needs to spread horizontally connecting to a network of secondary cities and smaller markets. Research shows that productivity impact of connectivity is higher for rural areas, which previously had poor connectivity. This requires aligning of public investments with CPEC through an integrated spatial planning strategy and plugging existing missing links, especially in less-developed regions.

Secondly, a real economic corridor of this scale cannot take off by public investments only. Therefore, the next step is to mobilise private investment, which would require regulatory and business environment reforms. Public investment should only be used to provide infrastructure or to address market failures in selected cases.

The third area is to ensure equitable growth. With new corridors coming up, there is a risk that much of the investment would flow to already flourishing urban and economic centres. The role of the government is therefore to ensure fair distribution of dividends of these new investments and remove any disparities.

These steps however require well-coordinated actions by multiple federal and provincial government departments. We therefore need to carefully think through our governance structure for corridor development. Other countries have established fully-empowered private sector-driven statutory bodies that coordinate actions across a range of departments and are accountable for clear performance indicators such as quantum of investment mobilised and number of new jobs created, rather than showing summits, conferences and roadshows as their achievement.

Investment for CPEC road infrastructure stands around $11 billion. At 2% interest and 20-year repayment period, it translates into $672 million debt-servicing payment every year. The toll payments alone will not be sufficient to pay back this amount. Economic corridor development is therefore the only way to go.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2018.

SOURCE: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1727674/6-cpec-transport-economic-corridor/

Govt introduces policy measures to boost agriculture sector under CPEC

The ministry of national food security and research has evolved comprehensive policy measures to work for development of agriculture sector under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to boost exports of agricultural products, enhance per acre yield of major crops, and produce high-tech value added products of international standards.
The measures are part of first ever “National Food Security Policy” announced by the ministry last week.
Under the policy measures, the ministry will prepare feasibility reports of trad-able commodities for each sub zone along the corridor, and will do pilot testing of rural businesses for the identified commodities and coordination for development of business zones along the corridor.
The government will also arrange a series of training programs aimed at capacity building of rural entrepreneurs and agricultural service providers.
Similarly, innovations for quality production, post harvest handling and processing will be introduced and investment portfolios will also be developed for public private partnerships to promote rural businesses.
Business models will be developed to promote value added agriculture all along CPEC route whereas special focus would be given on modern production and market infrastructure development for grain and fruit crops, fisheries, livestock and livestock products. China is second largest importer in the world with overall imports of $1966 billion including food imports worth of over $100 billion. Pakistan’s share in Chinese imports is only $2.93 billion while in food imports, the Pakistani share is only around 1 percent. China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) has provided an opportunity to increase trade on the principles of complimentary advantages and mutual benefits. According to official sources, the key areas for agricultural economic and technical cooperation between China and Pakistan will be determined by fully considering the comparative advantage and cooperation needs. There will be an opportunity to produce high-tech value added agricultural produces at international standards for different potential markets. The commodities that can be potentially exported to China include cereals, dairy eggs, honey, live animals, tobacco, meat, sea more than 40 commodities identified across the corridor for promoting rural businesses through developing entrepreneurship, processing zones, skilled manpower and modern market infrastructure. The corridor crosses through the nine agro-ecologies. —APP

SOURCE:https://pakobserver.net/govt-introduces-policy-measures-to-boost-agri-sector-under-cpec-2/

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China-Pakistan Economic Corridor developed faster than expected: Chinese experts

BEIJING : The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has developed faster than expected: Chinese experts, but political stability in Pakistan will be the backbone of future sustainable growth, experts said Wednesday. The recent inauguration of a superhighway project under the CPEC will improve regional connectivity, which will be a positive outcome of the multi-billion-dollar project, Zhou Rong, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times.

“The development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is getting better and better, as improved infrastructure will help link upstream and downstream businesses,” he said. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

On last week inaugurated the Sharqpur-Rajana section of the Lahore-Abdul Hakeem Motorway, or M-3, in Rajana Town near the textile city of Faisalabad in eastern Punjab province, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The 138-kilometer section is a vital part of the 230-kilometer M-3, which is being funded by the Pakistani government and built by China Railway 20th Bureau Group.

“Besides the motorway project, other projects – for example, some power plants – have already begun to deliver benefits to local people,” Zhou said.

He noted that China-backed energy projects had resolved electricity shortages in major industrial cities, which also made those areas much more competitive than previously.
The Pakistan Neelum-Jhelum project, one of the most significant hydropower stations in Pakistan, saw its first turbine generator, which is designed to generate 243,000 kilowatts, officially start supplying electricity to the national grid, according to Beijing-based Economic Daily. Construction work on the project began in 2008, with China Gezhouba Group Co as the major contractor.

“In the past few years, investors from both China and Pakistan got too excited about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and they overlooked the problems with the Pakistan economy,” Mei Xinyu, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation. He told the Global Times. “Now, they need to carefully assess potential risks in some projects, and Pakistan’s ability to repay its debts,”

Mei warned. In the first 10 months of the fiscal year 2017-18 which ends on June 30, Pakistan’s government borrowed $9.6 billion from foreign countries. Of that, loans from China stood at $1.5 billion.

Pakistan expects to obtain new Chinese loans worth $1 billion to $2 billion to help it avert a balance-of-payments crisis. On May 24, China increased the size of a currency swap agreement with the South Asian country by 10 billion yuan ($1.57 billion) to 20 billion yuan.

“Political instability and widespread corruption are still serious issues in Pakistan, and it is crucial to strike a balance between political strategy and business profitability,” said Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at the Renmin University of China.”Still, the CPEC can be an example of regional growth and stability,” he noted.

As Pakistan’s general election which will take place in July nears, the international community is keeping a close watch. The results may affect the continuity of policies, Zhou noted.

“More importantly, the country has to push forward construction of industrial parks under the CPEC, which can be a driving force for attracting clusters of industries,” he said.—APP

SOURCE: https://pakobserver.net/cpec-developed-faster-than-expected/

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How China’s Belt And Road Just Got A Big Boost From Europe’s TIR Convention

In 2016, China became a member of the UN’s TIR Convention, which enables transporters to ship goods through 73 partner countries by truck with just a single customs inspection, but it wasn’t until this month that their participation officially went into effect.

On May 18th, a caravan of trucks with large blue and white TIR plates departed in a ceremonial launch from Dalian in the northeast of China bound for Novosibirsk in Russia, 5,600 kilometers away. Having already undergone a customs inspection in the Dalian-bonded zone, these vehicles will not need to go through another for the duration of the journey, speeding up their transit time considerably. Why does this matter so much to China and its future economic prospects?

What is the TIR Convention?

Founded in Geneva in 1975, the Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) or International Road Transports convention is a multilateral treaty facilitated by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to improve road transportation throughout the continent by removing en route customs inspections and on-site duty payments for approved carriers departing from select locations. This essentially allowed trucks to traverse dozens of European countries without needing to be checked at each border, which greatly improved the speed and efficiency of trade, decreasing the lead time of a journey by up to 80%.

With the creation of the European Single Market in 1993, TIR was rendered moot for intra-European transit. However, as globalization kicked into high gear throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the TIR was expanded to include countries outside of the EU, eventually attracting 73 member states across Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and East Asia, making it the go-to customs arrangement for international ground transport which is currently speeding up 1.5 million border crossings per year.

The TIR has also been adapted from its original vision of being solely for road transport and has become truly multimodal, allowing for rail, river and sea legs to be included if at least one part of a journey is done by truck.

Now that China is part of the TIR picture, goods can be shipped from some of the biggest manufacturing centers in the world more rapidly and cheaper. Going the other way, the TIR allows manufacturers from other member states to get their products to China’s booming middle-class market by land more efficiently than they ever could before–in theory, anyway.

“As well as opening up new, more efficient and cost-effective trading routes for China’s manufacturers to the rest of the world, the TIR Convention will open up reciprocal trading routes for external manufacturers into the country,” said Umberto de Pretto, the Secretary General of the IRU, a major international road transport organization with over 100 member countries.

Why this matters

Hard infrastructure—roads and rail lines and airports—mean little without the soft infrastructure which makes them viable. Countries don’t only need to “build it” but they need to come up with policies and agreements with other countries to maximize the potential of these new infrastructural offerings. Some of these agreements come in the form of trade organizations, customs zones and multinational economic areas, while others are along the lines of initiatives like China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or conventions like the TIR. As we previously covered on Forbes:

The first stage of China’s Belt and Road initiative, which aims to create a network of interconnected trade stations across Eurasia, is customs. Getting rid of the red tape to allow goods to traverse this massive land mass as efficiently as possible is key to making these routes sensible and profitable. The aim is to make land borders nearly as easy for goods to flow across as the open ocean, and this is being done step-by-step.

Later this month, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is going to have its summit in Qingdao, and it should not go without notice that every member of the group has already ratified TIR.

How the TIR Convention helps China’s Belt and Road

IRU press photo

Truck with TIR plates departing from Dalian.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a large-scale endeavor to create and enhance economic and political corridors across Eurasia and Africa, and programs such as the TIR Convention ultimately provide a major boost towards these ends. According to the IRU, the TIR convention has the potential to increase the volume of total trade between China and the other countries of the Belt and Road by $13.6 billion.

It currently takes between 8-12 days to transport products door-to-door by truck between an inland city in China and Europe. This is roughly four times faster than shipping by sea and around 50% faster than rail. Now with China being a full-fledged member of the TIR, shipping overland between China and Europe becomes an increasingly attractive option for manufacturers looking to get their products to the other side of Eurasia.

Production moving deeper inland

The impact of the TIR convention and China’s participation in it is magnified many-fold by the geographic redistribution of manufacturing to inland areas throughout Eurasia.

Beginning in the early 2000s, China’s “Go West” policy saw the all-out rebuilding of the country’s transportation infrastructure and the large-scale migration of companies inland from the prosperous cities of the east coast to then-backwaters like Chongqing, Chengdu, Zhengzhou, Wuhan and Xi’an.

Chongqing City, China. (Photo by: Prisma Bildagentur/UIG via Getty Images)

This movement has gained momentum in recent years with the Belt and Road Initiative, and even cities in China’s far west, such as Horgos and Kashgar, have been primed to become major manufacturing centers.

These development gave new relevance to overland trans-Eurasian transport, as the places where goods were being manufactured in China were suddenly very far from any seaport and significantly closer to their target markets in Europe, so it no longer made any logistical sense to truck products thousands of kilometers east in order to ship them back west again.

It is no coincidence that most of the TIR gateways in China are emerging BRI transport hubs:

Dalian: a major multimodal transport hub on the Pacific.

Erenhot: a new city and trade station on the border of China and Mongolia that sits at the heart of the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor.

Horgos: a massive conurbation of development that extends across the China/Kazakhstan border.

Manzhouli: a major BRI hub on the China/Russia border.

Suifenhe Port: another China/Russia trade hub.

When you add to this picture the emerging special economic zones in other parts of Eurasia–such as those on the Kazakhstan side of Khorgos, Alyat in Azerbaijan, Malaszewicze in Poland, and dozens of others–along with mega-transportation projects like the Western Europe-Western China Expressway, which runs from the east coast of China all the way to the Baltic Sea at St. Petersbur–it is looking as if the the geospatial distribution of manufacturing and the way goods are moved across Eurasia could have the potential to be significantly altered in the near future.

SOURCE: https://www.forbes.com/sites/wadeshepard/2018/05/31/how-chinas-belt-and-road-just-got-a-big-boost-from-europes-tir-convention/#34ab6f8a2517