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Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) train to resume operations soon

The national railways of Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan have unanimously agreed to resume regular operations of the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) container train soon. According to news sources, all necessary preparations for the container train line have been met.

The ITI corridor was first launched in 2009. The framework existed within the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). The Economic Cooperation Organization or ECO is an Asian political and economic intergovernmental organization that was founded in 1985 in Tehran by the leaders of Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey. It provides a platform to discuss ways to improve development and promote trade and investment opportunities.

Although various test journeys were carried out, the transit line did not become a regular service. This however should change since the three countries have now agreed to unified tariffs and a steady timetable.

The Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad freight train will be relaunched next year, participants of a tri-lateral economic bloc thus decided yesterday.

The 10th edition of the Economic Cooperation Organization’s (ECO) Transport and Communications Ministers Meeting was held in Istanbul.

All obstacles for international cargo transportation should be removed, Adil Karaismailoglu, Turkey’s transport minister said in his opening speech.

He also said quotas should be removed in the ECO region.

The availability of the train is actively promoted in each country, in order to dispatch this train as soon as possible, the companies said.

Importance of the ITI train

The railway line has great potential. Initially, it took a train 15 days to make the 6500km journey, and this was eventually reduced to 11.5 days. The train can carry 20, 40ft rail cars. The route has been recognized as an international corridor by the United Nations.

It is foreseen that the railway not only connects these three countries but also forms a link between Europe and Asia. From Istanbul, there are good connections to Europe and with the use of the Marmara undersea railway tunnel, the delivery could be even faster. The Marmara railway tunnel was recently opened for rail freight traffic, allowing for a faster link between the European and Asian sides of the Turkish city.

On the other end, India and Bangladesh have expressed interest to connect to the line, in order to realize a faster transport link to the Middle East and Europe. The ITI train is also called the Eco Container Train.

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Gwadar’s new master plan highlights factors behind economic prosperity

Gwadar’s population is set to exceed 2 million people in the long-term with high paid expatriate professionals accounting for up to 80 percent of the population, according to the new Gwadar Smart City Master Plan.

High paid jobs, tax free environment, high-tech industries, mega shopping malls, luxury resorts, manmade islands and a Pakistan’s largest international airport which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran

Khan last year are all included in the blueprint that will see Gwadar become the 3rd largest city in Pakistan by economic output.

The 75 page master plan document, prepared by Chinese state owned company China Communications Construction Company in conjunction with Pakistan’s Minister of Planning, Development and Gwadar Development Authority, chalks out an elaborate road map and plan on how Gwadar is to become the trade and economic hub of South Asia with a GDP per capita of $15,000-10 times that of Pakistan’s average.

The Government of Pakistan and China project Gwadar’s economy to surpass $30 billion per annum in the long-term, creating 1-1.2 million high paid jobs with an income per capita of $15,000. Pakistan’s current income per capita meaning the economic output the country generates per person is around $1500 which Gwadar will eclipse by some 1000 percent.

According to Gwadar’s new Master Plan the city will become the fulcrum of economic development in western Pakistan, the main port in western Pakistan, one of the westward sea routes in western China, the five Central Asian countries and the trade centers of Afghanistan, South Asia and the neighbouring Middle East.

The Mega projects, include a $5 billion investment into Gwadar’s power sector with 15 new power plants, $1 billion invested in to generating 700,000 m3 of fresh water per day through desalination plants, a manmade island, central business district, Pakistan’s tallest building all in a tax-free environment where life can be enjoyed whilst avoiding taxes.

Gwadar is set to see a massive influx of skilled workers and high powered executives as it gears up to become the technological, industrial and high-tech service hub of South Asia.

According to the recently released Gwadar smart port city master plan Gwadar’s economic output is expected to exceed $30 billion whilst creating up to 1.2 million jobs for skilled workers and professionals.

The master plan details international exhibition centres, multiple theme parks, luxury 5 resorts, botanical gardens and museums in a thriving modern city economy all within Pakistan’s first ‘weapon free’ city.

Pakistan’s current trade and economic hub of Karachi sea some 65 million tonnes of cargo through the port each year and with Gwadar eclipsing that by 2030 as the key route for trade with the Middle-East, Afghanistan, Central Asia and China, the city is expected to become the region’s leading trade centre.

Gwadar will require some 15,800 new homes by 2025, 47,600 by 2030 and 254,500 by 2050 according to the new Gwadar Smart City Master Plan.

A tax free haven with high technology industries, manmade islands, science and technology parks, 5 beach resorts, concert venues, exhibition centres, shopping malls and Pakistan’s first ‘weapon-free’ city will see Gwadar economic output reach $30 billion per

annum and population balloon to 2 million residents resulting in a mega shortage of housing.

In line with Pakistan and China’s grand development plans for the Port City of Gwadar the city will be Pakistan’s first weapon free city. The city is being developed under the highest of international standards to be an economic hub not only for Pakistan but for the region and for this reason a robust security environment will be developed to ensure security for foreigners and expats coming to Gwadar.

The security plans include the highest levels of urban security mechanisms through CCTV, vehicle management, urban video and alarm networks, and police management programs.

Pakistan’s first dedicated high education centre and University City has been planned at the centre of Gwadar’s new Master Plan.

Built as a city of the future along the highest of international standard’s Gwadar will have a dedicated University City focused on the technology and medical sectors enabling locals of Gwadar and the expected 2 million population to educate themselves in the most sophisticated environment.

Plans for luxury golf course have been revealed in Gwadar’s new Master Plan which projects a booming city of 2 Million people with a GDP per capita some 10 times that of Pakistan at $15,000 per capita.

This is all detailed within the new Gwadar master plan which has been developed by the Government of Pakistan alongside Chinese state owned construction and planning giant China Communications Construction Company.

Source: Business Recorder

Dated on: 13/02/2020

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Govt to Build Pakistan’s First Man-Made ‘Chand Tara Island’ in Gwadar

The government has planned to develop the first man-made ‘Chand Tara Island’ of Pakistan in Gwadar at a cost of $10 billion. ‘Chand Tara’ meaning moon and the star symbolizes the Pakistani flag. It will form the residential areas of the Central Business District.

In a 78-page master plan, it was revealed. It says that this project will be a collaborative effort between the Pakistan government and the Chinese state-owned enterprise, China Communications Construction Company that has a net worth of over $132 billion.

The island will feature a state of the art amusement park, art & culture museum, grand theatre, concert hall, international expo center, hotels, resorts, shopping malls, and waterfront walk. It will stretch from the Marine Drive towards Zero Point.

As per the detailed report, there is a plan to make Gwadar the next trade and economic hub of Pakistan and South Asia. In the long term, its economy would surpass $30 billion per annum. It is expected that the project will create almost 1.2 million high paid jobs. This will take the per capita income of Gwadar to $15,000 in comparison to the current per capita income of around $1500.

Also, it is proposed in the master plan to make Gwadar the first tax-free and weapon-free economic zone of Pakistan. Presently Karachi is the trade and economic hub of Pakistan as it sends around 65 million tonnes of cargo via port annually. It took 70 years for Karachi to achieve this status. However, it is expected that the Gwadar port will achieve its target by 2030.

If things go as planned,Gwadar will also become third largest city of Pakistan by economic output with high-paid jobs, a tax-free environment, high-tech industries, huge shopping malls, man-made islands and the home to the largest international airport of Pakistan.

Source: RS.news

Date: 12/02/2020

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Umar for expediting work on Railways ML-1

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has directed the financing committee to expedite its work and engage with the Chinese side to finalise the terms and conditions of financing of the ML-1 Railways Project.

The minister chaired a meeting to review the present status of preparation and processing of PC-I of the ML-1 project and the Pakistan Railways Strategic Plan here on Tuesday.

Dr Ishrat Hussain, adviser to the prime minister on institutional reforms and austerity, deputy chairperson Planning Commission, secretaries planning and railways and senior officials of both the ministries participated in the meeting.

A financing committee for ML-1 Railway Project had been constituted, which has been looking into the modalities for the implementation of the project with regard to the terms and conditions of financing.

The meeting was informed that the umbrella PC-1 of the project was under review in the Planning Commission. Considering the significance of the project as well as the scale of financing required for the project, the Planning Commission is carrying out the required due diligence in consultation with all the relevant stakeholders. For this purpose the Commission also arranged a consultative workshop on the project in the last week of January 2020.

The financing committee has already asked Economic Affairs Division (EAD) to advice the Chinese side, of the Government of Pakistan’s readiness for the execution of the project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Planning Minister Asad Umar said that the government was keen to improve and upgrade the railways infrastructure in the country and ML-1 was the most important project in that regard. He said that improvement of efficiency, freight services and providing quality traveling facilities to commuters was the government’s objective.

The minister emphasised the need for devising a holistic strategy for developing and upgrading infrastructure across the country and fill connectivity gaps for sustained national growth.

Umar said the railways should expedite the remaining work of 3rd party review so that the same can be processed for approval at the earliest.

He stressed on the Ministry of Railways that the institutional/organisational reforms were inevitable for sustenance of the railways and for its future operation and maintenance of the system. In this regard, the railways should implement reforms and improve the organisational structure to be able to handle a much bigger infrastructure.

The minister said that apart from ML-1, the Karachi Circular Railway was also an important project in the same sector. Umar said that the government wanted to finalise/implement both those projects. Railways secretary expressed the desire and readiness of the ministry for executing both the projects at the earliest.

Source: Business Recorder

Date: 12/02/2020

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Gwadar, security & inclusive development

The journey from the exit out of the Gwadar Airport to the narrow passage through the old town – barely half a kilometre stretch – to the security checkpoints before the Port Area and on the way to the Kohe Batil is not amusing at all.

The first thing that strikes a maiden visitor to the area during this 10-kilometre trip is the narrow entry-exit gate; all the vehicles on the way out have to meander through a dirt patch if the way is blocked by incoming traffic – a sad reflection indeed on the competence of the authorities.

Equally striking is the presence of about two dozen armed soldiers and their vehicles near and around the gate of the airport. The sight of this imposing presence of armed forces itself is a turn-off, in fact intimidating, particularly for foreign visitors who are not used to such scenes.

”The old town itself wears an extremely dirty look, with piles of trash in the dusty streets which smell of nasty stench that rises from the                                                                                                    overflowing sewerage water”

Thirdly, although over 95 percent of the road – Padizar – has been dualized, yet lack of consultation with locals and apparent official indifference to the concerns of the local community – largely fishermen – has stalled dualization work on the road up to the port.

Fourth, the security checkpoint before the Port Area itself is often quite testing not only for Pakistani visitors but also even for locals because of discomforting questions by the young soldiers manning the posts. They clearly lack the knowledge of local sensitivities. Nor are they equipped with the ability to distinguish between potential militants and visitors – most of whom travel in the official vehicle of the only hotel that is perched on the Kohe Batil.

These feelings are even more frustrating for the person on a second visit to Gwadar – a city that is talked about not only in the length and breadth of China and Pakistan but also elsewhere, often referred to as the Jewel in the crown of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). For me personally, none of the aforementioned factors have fundamentally changed between October 2016, when I first visited the place, and Feb 2020, when I arrived here a second time.

And these factors often breed frustration among locals as well as give way to all kind of suspicion and speculation. Ashraf Hussain, for instance, is a local politician and big name in the real estate because of ancestral lands his family has owned. He is mostly reluctant in coming to the PC Hotel on Kohe Batil because of questions ( in his words “insults”) that he some times has to face at the hands of soldiers at piquets.

 Gwadar for outsiders, particularly keen investors and businessmen, evokes enthusiasm. They equate it with a place open to visitors and ready for investment. But the imposing omnipresent physical and procedural security barriers kill that enthusiasm.

“Is it not annoying that I have to respond to silly questions when they ask me where I come from and where do I want to go,” says the elderly Hussain. We had owned most of the land that has gone into the Port and the Hospital area. It is painful that a former owner of these lands, a native son of the soil has to provide his identity every time he steps out of home,” he said.How can you expect the local people not to be resentful if their share of jobs in provincial institutions such as GDA or the Port Authority is minimal

The old town itself wears an extremely dirty look, with piles of trash in the dusty streets which smell of nasty stench that rises from the overflowing sewerage water.

Potable water and electricity is another chronic issue that Gwadar locals – nearly 80,000 in all – are struggling with. The new Chinese-build maternity care centre constructed adjacent to the Port remains non-functional despite having been inaugurated a few weeks ago.

Frustration with the slow pace of development and non-inclusion of locals in decision-making were in fact over-flowing at a dialogue where over 50 representatives from various walks of life – drawn from Gwadar, Jeewni, Pasni, Ormara, Kharan, Quetta – participated.

“How do you create social protection for, and ownership of, the port-related business if locals are excluded from the primary business,” asked Fida Hussain Dashti, a local businessman. He complained of low quality of work on various projects, including the Coastal Highway as well as the M-8, where commuters say most of the bridges have become dysfunctional within months of the construction.

How can business flourish in a securitized environment, where most locals feel being treated as terror suspects, asked a young Baloch fisherman.

Local officials claim that work on the 300 bed hospital, the Gwadar Vocational Training Center is already underway. They say planning for the three access points on the East-Bay Express Way to local fishermen, and water and sanitation projects is also underway. The Master plan for the Gwadar Smart Port City and the a review of the Old City Master plan is also under way to help being upgrade water, power and sewerage systems in the city.

We have no reason to dismiss these claims but the exclusionary planning, decision-making and execution has already poisoned many minds. Participants of the dialogue, including former Chief minister Dr. Mohammad Malik Baloch, demanded that federal and provincial governments should prioritise inclusion of Balochistan’s local communities in all the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. Their interests and identities need to be protected through legislation for an economically sustainable and socially acceptable development.

“How can you expect the local people not to be resentful if their share of jobs in provincial institutions such as GDA or the Port Authority is minimal,” asked the former chief minister, adding that share of jobs must be increased for locals (Gwadar) in particular and Baloch people in general across the province, asked Dr. Baloch.

One mounting fear is the marginalisation of local communities – traders, fishermen, contractors, transporters; locals allege that most of the contracts are gradually being doled out to outsiders from Karachi and Lahore, which means elbowing out locals.

This will not help the government in smoothly implementing CPEC projects. The best way for blaming the bruised egos, removing the mistrust and neutralising the nationalist militants is to create ownership of the local communities in all development and administrative structures, they said.

Source: Global Village Space

Date: 11/02/2020

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FIEDMC tours Europe to attract foreign investment

Pakistan is currently an attractive investment destination for foreign investors. It is home to a diverse market with a wide variety of resources and export-oriented companies. This promises foreign companies to prosper with ease, especially, in the comforts of state-of-the-art Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Moreover, would contribute more towards Pakistan’s economy by attracting more foreign investment, of which Pakistan has a dire need to reach its economic potential.

A delegation of high-level officials from Faisalabad Industrial Estate Development and Management Company (FIEDMC) left for Europe, on Saturday, to promote bilateral trade and enhance close cooperation by focusing on the investment sector.

”Pakistani market is mostly unexplored and has huge potential, thus offers lucrative investment opportunities”

While talking to the press before his departure to Europe, FIEDMC Chairman, Mian Kashif Ashfaq, shared that the delegation would visit five different European countries including, Germany, Italy and UK. This visit would extend for ten days to seek investment in different projects of FIEDMC, especially in the newly inaugurated, Allama Iqbal Industrial City (AIIC) – which is a prioritized Special Economic Zone under CPEC.

The delegation would have one-on-one interaction with several foreign business leaders, researchers and investors. Mian Kashif further added, “the tour would enable investors to identify potential organizations to partner with and developing successful regional economic strategies and support regionally vital businesses”.

He was of the view that economic and trade relations between Pakistan and Europe possess great potential and there was a dire need for the Pakistani business community to focus on improving their competitiveness in the European market. “Pakistan attaches immense importance to its relations with European countries especially with UK, Italy, France, Spain and Germany”, he said. “Pakistani market is mostly unexplored and has huge potential, thus offers lucrative investment opportunities”. If this is true, an international tour would substantially increase Pakistan’s GDP.

The timely ground-breaking of AIIC, in the first week of January 2020, has seen lots of institutional pedal work. While highlighting the FIEDMC development projects and potential on a previous occasion, Mian Kashif explained that a sum of Rs. 357 billion (foreign and local investment) is expected to flow into various projects, which indicates that investors already have complete confidence in the present regime.

”For the foreign company, such an investment can create an immediate surge in productivity, while our industries can learn up-to-date skills and practices valued worldwide”

In fact, around 15 to 20 Chinese companies have already capitalized in the Faisalabad Industrial City (M3) and four Chinese companies have already expressed interest in Allama Iqbal Industrial City. Moreover, a total of 12 national and international companies have completed 100% signing of MOUs with the new Industrial City (AIIC). This, FIEDMC-managed, industrial estate currently has the largest congregation of Chinese private sector investments in one place in Pakistan – which amounts to an estimated $1.3bn in potential investment from China-related companies so far.

Accordingly, the FIEDMC Chairman shared that European countries are keen to invest in various economic sectors of Pakistan in order to avail business opportunities in the country. In anticipation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, many of these European companies are interested in investing in infrastructure, energy, agriculture, defense, and digital technology sectors.

A diverse selection of international investments will not only kickstart production in said CEPC SEZs, but also accelerate further Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the country. The advantage of FDIs is that it allows the developed world to begin improving emerging market opportunities. Hence, Pakistan will be able to see improvements in wealth and increased job opportunities for locals, while the investing companies can benefit from increased profits, developing relationships and a greater level of market influence.

Moreover, through increased FDI, international trade will become easier to complete. This basically means that business with overseas stakeholders will make it possible to limit and eventually eliminate import/export tariffs, since a minimum stake in a foreign organization will improve long-term relations. This will give the local business more control over the market while maintaining price competition.

On the other hand, international investors bring more than just money to an FDI relationship. They will also bring their personal experiences and expertise within a specific industry, which will eventually leave a mark on our workmen. For the foreign company, such an investment can create an immediate surge in productivity, while our industries can learn up-to-date skills and practices valued worldwide.

According to Mian Kashif, projects, like FIEDMC’s industrial estates, have the potential to enhance the country’s exports by 1 to $1.5 Billion per annum in the short run with a comprehensive and effectively designed strategy specifically tailored to meet Pakistan’s exporting shortcomings.

International resources can provide capital to finance local industries and enhance existing industries, boost infrastructure and productivity, open up additional export opportunities and bring new technologies and services to the Pakistani market. Hence, the foreign investment sought by the FIEDMC European tour can turn out to be integral to improve Pakistan’s economy.

Source: Global Village Space

Date: 11/02/2020

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CPEC: The ball is in Pakistan’s court

China asserts that it is not wavering from its commitment to assist Pakistan in the second, people-centric phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Despite being embroiled in multiple problems — the virus epidemic, growth moderation and trade spat with the United States — the Asian dragon is all set to commit $1 billion in the current calendar year to kick-start the next phase of CPEC.

In an exclusive interaction with Dawn, China’s Consul General in Karachi Li Bijian was open and clear about the mutual relationship and its future. He dismissed the perception that China is disillusioned by the Pakistani leadership and has adopted a wait-and-see strategy before committing support for CPEC’s second phase.

“This is a figment of some naïve elements’ imagination. Nothing can be far from the truth. I can confirm that China has helped Pakistan close physical infrastructure gaps in the first phase and wishes to see benefits of this massive investment flowing to Pakistani youth, farmers, labour and disadvantaged segments in the second phase,” he asserted.

He declined to comment on a possible US role in peddling doubts about CPEC and its cost.

‘We can’t order private investment. We know well it will not be persuasion but the profit expectation and risk coverage that will mobilise them,’ CG Li

The second phase of CPEC is focused on public and private collaboration in industrial, agriculture and social sectors (poverty alleviation, training and research to transform industrial/agriculture sectors to improve productivity and competitiveness). The specifics of commitments for the identified projects have yet to be finalised, but about $1bn is expected to land in the country over the next 11 months.

In the first phase, the thrust was on bridging the physical infrastructure deficit (electricity, logistics and the port). Big-ticket projects close to $21bn in energy, transport infrastructure and Gwadar Port are either complete or about to finish shortly.

Expanding on his argument, the consul general stated: “The relationship between the two countries is not transactional. We are long-term partners who share the common dream for a just and inclusive order that affords decent living standards for all citizens. China chose Pakistan to be the first stop for its One Belt, One Road vision.”

“If there was some confusion in the party that assumed power after the 2018 general elections, it has been cleared. We know the current leadership in Pakistan understands and acknowledges CPEC’s value for the country and its future,” he added, putting to rest the perception of deliberate reluctance on either side.

He also mentioned the revised China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that has added 301 items to the list of articles enjoying duty-free access to the gigantic Chinese market. “It can translate into $6bn worth of additional export from Pakistan to China if the potential of the facility is properly leveraged,” Mr Li elaborated.

To a question regarding little interest among private Chinese companies in relocating their operations in Pakistan, the consul general was not apologetic. He attributed it to a lack of suitable business environment that had de-motivated even local investors.

“We can’t order private investment. Yes, we are encouraging companies. We know well that it will not be persuasion but the profit expectation and risk coverage that will mobilise them. We are engaging with the relevant quarters in Pakistan to work out an incentives package for Chinese investors in special economic zones (SEZs).”

About $1bn is expected to land in Pakistan over the next 11 months as part of the second phase of CPEC

Elaborating on multiple factors that influence the decision of Chinese companies about the destination of their overseas investment, he mentioned the low quality of workforce in Pakistan. “Finding workers with required skills was identified as a big challenge by prospective Chinese investors. We intend to initiate more skill training programmes for workers in Pakistan to ensure the availability of employable youth for Chinese companies setting up shop here. Currently, we are setting up one such facility at Gwadar.”

Commenting on the current slump in Chinese funding, the consul general mentioned multiple challenges that his home country is facing. “Taking care of I.4bn- strong population is not a mean challenge in itself, especially when the GDP growth rate has moderated to 6.1 per cent from over 8pc annual average. The global slowdown and trade frictions with the United States are there. The fear of a virus epidemic in a country of high population density has soaked up the government attention. In this environment, China can’t afford to be too generous. Like others, we also need to justify to our people the resources diverted to other countries.”

He said the next Joint Coordination Committee meeting is still on the agenda. “The tradition of top-level exchange of visits will be maintained this year. Such frequent bilateral visits will further promote and strengthen the existing relations and cooperation.”

Experts involved in CPEC-related affairs agree that sometimes China raises issues, but it would be wrong to interpret those as second thoughts on Pakistan. “The problem is on Pakistan’s side. The PTI leadership took long to absorb the value of Chinese support to the economy that is on a slippery slope. All members of the leading team might still not be fully convinced by the official line to make CPEC fly. This, however, has proven to be insufficient.

“The Khan government is still struggling to put in place a workable mechanism acceptable to all federating units for implementing the second phase of CPEC,” a well-connected source in Islamabad commented.

Several attempts to reach retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPECA), for his input did not succeed.

Zafar Hasan, federal secretary for planning , was upbeat about the future of CPEC. He confirmed that the incentives package for local and Chinese investors in SEZs was in the works in collaboration with Chinese counterparts.

He defended the newly established autonomous authority that he said would be sufficiently empowered and made financially independent to coordinate and streamline dealings with all relevant departments and ministries and lower tiers of the government in CPEC-related projects across Pakistan.

As for the past and present inflow of funds from China, Mr Hasan said working out the exact quantum was a little difficult and involved monetising goods and services associated with CPEC projects. He did not confirm or dismiss the projection of $1bn worth of support in 2020 mentioned by the Chinese consul general.

“The intent might be there but the pace of progress is woefully slow. It is almost criminal. The government must immediately remove irritants delaying the arrival of Chinese investment that might ease economic stress through job creation or the strengthening of social protection programmes,” commented a senior officer anonymously.

Source: Dawn 

Dated on: 10/02/2020


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SEZ to be established along Sialkot-Lahore motorway

Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) president Muhammad Ashraf Malik has said that under mega China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) would be established along Sailkot-Lahore Motorway. Talking to APP here on Sunday, he said that the propose SEZ would be developed on 1000 acres of land and work on this project would start soon. The SEZ would open new era of development and provide employment opportunities in Golden Economic Triangle (Sialkot, Gujranwala and Gujrat) he said.

The triangle represents the highest SME base of the country employing millions of skilled workforce and among highest per capita income in the country, he pointed out. He further said that triangle holds its unique importance because its production of high quality commodities being hub of local trade. The SCCI president said that adequate efforts were being made for resolving the problems confronted by the business community of Sialkot on top priority basis.

Source: The Nation

Dated on: 10/02/2020

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SEZ policy of Pakistan

The Special Economic Zones Act 2012 (SEZ 2012, Amended 2016) was promulgated on September 13, 2012, and the SEZ Rules were notified in 2013 (SEZ Rules, 2013).

SEZ Act 2012 had to be amended on the recommendations of Board of Investments (BOI) when provincial governments and Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCI) across Pakistan pointed out that in 2012 Act, SEZs were kept out of the customs law and were treated like the Export Processing Zones (EPZ).

It meant that while customs duty exemptions were available for plant and machinery at the import stage, it was not available on the products and services supplied to the domestic markets. This legal lacuna essentially reduced the attractiveness of the SEZs – and was thus corrected in the SEZ Act 2016.

The law provides SEZs to be set up by the Federal or Provincial Governments themselves or in collaboration with the private sector under different modes of public-private partnership or exclusively through the private sector.

The fiscal benefits under the SEZ law include a one-time exemption from custom duties and taxes for all capital goods imported into Pakistan for the development, operations and maintenance of an SEZ (both for the developer as well as for the zone enterprise) and exemption from all taxes on income for a period of ten years.

Currently, for the producers, the income tax exemption is five years, but it is expected that this too will be made 10 years. The provincial SEZ authorities, set up under the law, are required to move the applications received from developers to the Federal Board of Investment which is to act as the secretariat to the Board of Approval and the Approval Committee.

Source: Global Village Space

Date: 7/02/2020

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CPEC is backbone of Pakistan’s economy, says Asad Qaiser

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on Thursday said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a backbone of our economy amid critical economic challenges of the country.

Terming CPEC a fortune change of the country, Asad Qaiser said through knowledge sharing and technology transfer, we are hopeful that Pakistan would soon get out of the current economic quagmire.

He said this during a special seminar titled “Six Years of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)” organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with Islamabad Stock Exchange (ISE) here at Islamabad.

Asad said that it is heartening to note that CPEC in its second phase has now included the agriculture and social sector, which will help Pakistan to address the challenges of agriculture and social sector.

On coronavirus outbreak in China, Asad said that through all thick and thin China always help Pakistan and in this catastrophe of coronavirus, despites concerns, the government and people of Pakistan will be standing with China and will provide all out support in their difficult times.

Asad expressed the need for creating and converting the CPEC committee into a think tank and asked SDPI’s support in this regard. He also invited the business community and think tanks for economic policy inputs.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing said that after 6 years successful implementation of CPEC project under the umbrella of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it is now established that CPEC and other corridors under BRI are projects of international cooperation, where 126 countries joined these projects. He said BRI provided credible and tangible benefits to the beneficiary’s countries and CPEC is one of the successful examples. We are officially against the unilateralism and those against the BRI are against international cooperation, he added.

“I am looking CPEC in the context of historic China and Pakistan relations, where CPEC provided new focus and new opportunities on economic front”, said Yao adding that CPEC under more clear and consistent policies coupled with set direction will help Pakistan in the long term.

On coronavirus epidemic, Yao said that this catastrophe would not stop the economic cooperation between China and Pakistan, and we are thankful to the Pakistani government and people for showing solidarity in our difficult time which provide us strength and more confidence.

Executive Director, SDPI, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that six years back when CPEC started, In Pakistan, the power system was crippled, as there was regular pattern of 2 hours power outage and now one can see the difference only due to CPEC investment in energy sector. He said there are some myths that are associated with CPEC such as China’s CPEC model is new colonialism and Pakistan will be full of Chinese workers and dominance, another myth is that Pakistan would fall in debt trap Gwadar is a strategic project and not a commercial project. Now after 6 years all these myths have no basis at all, he added.

Dr Abid said that China is cooperating for shared prosperity and economic growth, where China has now become a de-facto common economic denominator for South Asia region. He said that the forthcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in New Delhi is of great importance, where China will play its role for regional stability by bringing two rivals on the table, India and Pakistan. “CPEC is not solution for all our ills, but an instrument to utilize best to solve our issues”, said Dr Abid adding that to achieve the potential benefits associated with CPEC and BRI, Pakistan needs to put its own house in order and to make the country favorable for the investments and businesses.

Shakeel Ahmed Ramay, Head China Study Center, SDPI said that more than 600 million people still live in extreme poverty in the world, around 2 billion people need safe drinking water, 1.1 billion people need electricity and 263 million children are still out of school. To cope with these global challenges, the world, especially the developing countries, needs projects like CPEC and BRI which aim at improving regional integration, increasing trade and stimulating economic growth. He said that BRI is really helping counter extreme poverty, particularly in developing countries, through the provision of employment opportunities and boosting exports. BRI is different than other regional projects as it promotes harmony and peace through development, pre-emptive economic strike (PES), and encourage eco-civilization which is sustainable development plus, he added. To ensure success of CPEC, Pakistan needs to have a comprehensive Special Economic Zones (SEZs) policy to materialise CPEC projects with success, Ramay suggested.

President, Islamabad Stock Exchange (ISE), Zahid Latif Khan said that CPEC is the most successfully implemented project under BRI. The governments of China and Pakistan is expanding its scope in global value chain, social sector development, and blue economy etc., which will provide the gateways for the business to grow. He said that to boost exports, Pakistan needs export surplus, in order to get benefits from Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and special concessions.

 Source: Daily Times
Date: 7/02/2020