China Races Ahead of the U.S. in the Battle for 5G Supremacy

In the race for tech supremacy, China is betting it can seize the lead by building the world’s biggest 5G wireless networks.

To get there, the country is banking on the might of the one-party state, making sure its state-run carriers have access to cheap airwaves and fast, inexpensive approvals for putting up the hundreds of thousands of base stations the fastest wireless technology requires.

As top phone companies elsewhere flinch at the cost of building 5G wireless networks, China’s operators are barreling ahead on the government’s mandate, virtually free airwaves and equipment at less than half the price U.S. carriers are paying. Being the first to reach massive scale with the speediest networks could also help the nation in its ambition to dominateindustries like factory automation, robotics and autonomous driving.

“5G is a foundation and catalyst for reinventing industries,” said Paul Lee, U.K.-based head of research for technology, media and telecommunications at Deloitte Consulting. “The fundamental benefit of being the first mover is that you can build business models on the back of that and export them to other countries.”

South Korea’s wireless carriers were the first to offer commercial 5G services, with SK Telecom Co. launching its network in April and Samsung Electronics Co. already offering a 5G-enabled smartphone. But while U.S. carriers in cities like Minneapolis and Chicago have the beginnings of 5G offerings, it’s in sheer scale where China is on course to edge ahead over the next five years.

That size advantage is also reflected in China’s push to invent 5G technology.

The country’s biggest companies have already established a lead in patents related to the fastest network technology. Huawei Technologies Co., the contentious Chinese firm that’s at the heart of current U.S.-China tensions, leads the pack as the world’s biggest telecom equipment supplier. Meanwhile, ZTE Corp., which has also drawn America’s ire in the past, comes in at No. 3, according to Berlin-based patent information platform IPlytics.

But that won’t necessarily translate into network domination. China’s three carriers — China Mobile Ltd.China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. and China Telecom Corp. — are all state owned.

Harvard Business School economist Shane Greenstein says having a bigger government role in 5G may not provide an advantage.

“The private firms in China in the digital sector have an admirable record with experimentation,” he said. “The state-owned enterprises? That is a more open question.”

Patent Power

Where the government is helping is by holding carriers’ costs down.

Beijing is providing the bandwidth for 5G networks almost for almost free, said Edison Lee, head of telecommunications research at Jefferies Hong Kong Ltd.

U.S. carriers, by contrast, bid $2.7 billion at two auctions of 5G airwaves, according to the Federal Communications Commission. In India, the industry group representing carriers says its members can’t afford spectrum the government expects to auction for about $84 billion this year.

robably cost about $30,000 each in China, less than half the $65,000 average in other developed-economy markets, Jefferies’ Lee estimates. Two of China’s carriers have said they will lease the equipment, cutting the upfront cash outlay to roughly $6,500 each per year, Lee said.

“5G rollout has picked up pace near-term and exceeded our earlier expectation, driven by government directive and improved Huawei supply,” Kevin Chen and Clint Su, analysts at China Merchants Securities, wrote in a July 25 note. They raised their target for base station deployment through 2020 to as many as 400,000 from 360,000.

In the U.S., where the government is leaving 5G to companies, carriers will also pay at least five times more than Chinese operators for civil engineering and permits to build 5G, Deloitte Consulting estimates.

The world’s most populous country has about 350,000 5G-operable base stations deployed, nearly 10 times as many as in the U.S., according to a U.S. Department of Defense study.

The report says China claiming the position of standard-setter for 5G, with Huawei leading rival telecom equipment makers, is a risk for the U.S.

This “will create serious security risks for DoD going forward if the rest of the world accepts Chinese products as the cheaper and superior option for 5G,” said the report.

Concern about China’s edge prompted President Donald Trump to float a proposal last year for the government to build a secure 5G network, people familiar with the matter said at the time. The idea was dropped immediately after regulators, industry leaders and elected officials immediately pushed back, saying companies were in a better position to move the technology forward.

Qualcomm’s Concerned

The idea of China securing that advantage is also stoking concern among competitors beyond the telecommunications equipment and wireless services industries.

Chipmaker Qualcomm Inc., for example, is urging the U.S. and other Western governments to embrace 5G more rapidly or risk falling behind China in the potentially life-saving technology, which is also used in self-driving cars.

China will be “saving hundreds if not thousands of lives much sooner than we will as we fumble to determine which is the standard that is best for the long-term road map in the Western world,” Qualcomm Senior Vice President Patrick Little said in an interview.

U.S. risks falling behind China on robocarsQualcomm says

While China’s autonomous driving infrastructure lags behind the U.S., where firms like Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo LLC are streaking ahead in real-world testing, Chinese companies are developing related 5G applications with some established carmakers.

Belt and Road

ZTE is conducting 5G tests on self-driving cars, and has cooperated with Audi AG’s China unit to develop “internet-of-vehicles” technology. In robotics, ZTE is working with internet giant Baidu Inc. and Siasun Robot & Automation Co. to develop 5G applications.

Byton Ltd., an electric-vehicle startup based in Nanjing, will release an SUV in China at the end of this year that includes a range of artificial intelligence functions and a roof antenna that offers data transfer rates up to 10 Gbit a second, which it says is hundreds of times the normal average bandwidth.

The benefits of setting 5G standards may also help China outside its borders. President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative includes a push for Chinese-built network infrastructure across the length of a route that runs across Eurasia, the Middle East and parts of Africa.

“Developing countries that are more sensitive to cost will find the Chinese 5G price-point difficult to turn down, especially when the offer is sweetened with infrastructure and project-financing incentives like the Belt and Road Initiative,” the U.S. Department of Defense report said.

China’s Digital ‘Belt and Road’

For its part, the U.S. is letting the private sector guide 5G development, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said in a June speech to wireless executives in New York.

“For all this talk about our government’s focus on 5G, make no mistake that we are pursuing a market-based strategy to promote 5G development and deployment,” Pai said.

And the U.S.’ crackdown on Huawei, cutting it off from components made by American companies, will be a big test of China’s 5G lead, says Anthea Lai, Asia Pacific media, technology and telecommunications analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.

“Before Huawei’s ban, China had strong potential to lead in standalone 5G,” Lai said. “But now we have to see how much Huawei can keep its carrier business intact,”/she said.

Date: 2/8/2019

Source: Bloomberg


Revised FTA with China ‘silver lining’ for Pakistan


Experts have urged the government to build the country’s export capacity in order to cater to the demand from Chinese markets at competitive prices, amid finalisation of second phase of the free trade deal between Pakistan and China.

At a seminar on ‘Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA): Where we are and where we are going?’ on Monday, they termed the FTA a silver lining for Pakistan’s economy and a splendid opportunity for both countries.

Speaking on the occasion, Chinese Embassy Economic and Commercial Section Minister Counsellor Wang Zhihua said though the trade volume between Pakistan and China had increased over the years, the trade imbalance remained the biggest challenge. “The main reason behind the trade imbalance between the two countries is of structural nature, where China has a strong manufacturing base to export goods as compared to imports,” he remarked.

Wang said the finalisation of the second phase of FTA between the two countries on the sidelines of the second Belt and Road Forum would help resolve such issues and further strengthen bilateral trade ties.

He argued that as per FTA phase two, China had agreed to eliminate duties on more than 300 products, especially in the agriculture sector, where Pakistan had the potential to expand its export basket. “We hope that the government will adopt a new industrial policy at the earliest to help improve business environment and ease of doing business,” he said, adding that it would also help Chinese investors bring more investment.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2019.



China’s century? Chinese companies dominate Fortune 500 list

China has overtaken its trade war rival, the US, for the first time in a new list of the world’s largest companies by revenue. Since the Global 500 debut in 1990, the list has, until now, been dominated by American firms.

As the world balance of power shifts, Chinese companies took 129 spots, including 10 Taiwanese companies, while the US came second with 121 American businesses included in the list released by Fortune on Monday.

The veteran of the rankings, Walmart, secured the top position for the sixth consecutive year, and for the fourteenth time since 1995, having generated more than $500 billion in revenue. The US retail giant is followed by China’s largest state-owned oil and gas company Sinopec Group, whose sharp gains in both revenue and profits last year managed to dodge geopolitical headwinds amid the simmering trade war between Washington and Beijing.

Royal Dutch Shell, which netted around $396.556 billion, secured the third spot. Two more places in the top 5 are occupied by Chinese state-owned firms, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and power-supplier State Grid with $392.976 billion and $387.056 billion in revenue respectively.

Despite Chinese companies surpassing US firms by number, they are still behind in terms of total revenues, accounting for 25.6 percent of the Global 500 total, compared with 28.8 percent for the US. The total revenue for all companies named in the list amounts to $32.7 trillion, 9 percent more than a year before, and equal to more than one-third of the world’s GDP.

Among the 25 newcomers was Saudi Aramco, that was recently revealed as the world’s most profitable company. Out of 25 newly added companies, 13 are from China, including China Development Bank, train manufacturer CRRC Corp, home appliance giant Zhuhai Gree Electric Appliances Co, and smartphone maker Xiaomi, which is the youngest firm on the top 500 list in 2019.

Source: RT

Date: 23rd July, 2019

Chinese firm to launch online cab service in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Eyeing on the potential transport market, a Chinese company is all set to launch its online taxi service on August 10 in six big cities of the country, inviting competition with two such services already operating in the market.

Timesaco, the company launching the Buraq Taxi Service, has devised a comprehensive strategy to attract customers towards its newly established service for making it competitive, since two taxi services namely Careem and Uber are already operating in the market.

Initially these instant services will be launched in the six major cities of Pakistan, including Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar, and it would be extended to other urban centers.

Timesaco Chief Operating Officer (CEO), Donald Li talking to APP said that initially the taxi service would be offered at 10 percent discount rates for ride to education institutions, health centers and marriage halls.

He said that special discount would also be provided to professionals including teachers, army personnel and students.

He said that for Timesaco services, customers could download application from Google Play Store for instant services.

He said that people interested to work with Timesaco taxi service could register their vehicles with the company without any precondition.

Buraq drivers will get 97% share of their earning and company will get only 2% from drivers while one percent would be invested in Drivers’ Club for providing health and education services to families of drivers.

He said people could register their bikes, cars, rickshaws, pickups, qingqi loaders, and trucks with the company and get multiple ways for earning.

Talking about an elaborated programme of his company, he said that a comprehensive business plan had been worked out to provide five important services to citizens of Pakistan in six big cities, initially investing $20 million, with future prospects of $600 million.

The services would be provided in five special sectors including transportation, cargo, bank transaction and advertizing, Donald Li said .

“We will provide a rapid service platform to citizens by launching five special service including the Buraq Taxi Service, Heavy Cargo Delivery , Orders’ Delivery, Moving Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and vehicle advertisement facilities.

Donald said that modern technology and innovative methods of E-commerce would be utilized in delivering these services.

Source: The News

Date: 1/8/2019


CPEC: The new world economic order

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with its flagship project the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has received enormous attention globally. Through BRI, worth over one trillion dollars, Beijing aims to increase China’s connectivity with countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and even the Pacific. CPEC is one of the first BRI projects through an investment of $63 billion in infrastructural and other projects across Pakistan. The Gwadar Port is CPEC’s centrepiece. As some countries, such as the United States and India, have apprehensions on the BRI/CPEC, there is no shortage of false or propaganda-driven information about these projects. With the aim of providing factual information on CPEC, the book CPEC: A Precursor to Regional Economic Growth and Stability, edited by Professor Zafar Iqbal Cheema, is a step in the right direction.

Comprising of a dozen chapters, this edited volume provides timely analyses of a range of geo-economic and geopolitical issues in the context of CPEC. Various chapters of the book are written by prominent experts from China and Pakistan. This book is a product of the Strategic Vision Institute’s China Studies & Information Centre based in Islamabad.

For the benefit of readers, the book is divided into four thematic sections. The first section focuses on CPEC within the Pak-China framework with chapters written by QuratulainHafeez, Hassan Dawood Butt, and M Waqas Jan. These chapters provide a comprehensive account of the historic relations between China and Pakistan and focus on geo-economic and geo-strategic aspects of CPEC.

While the first chapter comprehensively deals with the background of Pakistan-China relationship, the second chapter by Butt argues, “The overarching vision of CPEC not only includes Pakistan’s economic well-being through regionals trade but also allows it to position itself as a key regional hub for connecting diverse cultures and societies.” In the final chapter of section one, Jan presents an inclusive analysis of Gwadar and the Gwadar Port. By examining the socio-economic situation of Gwadar, the author argues, “Gwadar holds immense potential in uplifting the socio-economic conditions of a stagnant region.”

Pakistan is likely to be strategically and militarily strengthened, diplomatically integrated, technologically more advanced and socially more synthesised with China” through CPEC

Section two of the book benefits from detailed chapters by Syed Hassan Javed, Song Guoyou and Liu Jun who focus on not just the BRI but also China’s economic rise. Javed presents a comprehensive account of China’s economic model with an analysis of the role of the Communist Party. This chapter follows Song’s examination of the grand vision behind the BRI vis-à-vis regional integration. In this chapter, the author from China claims that the BRI is not merely limited to investment in infrastructural development because “the end goal of this massive initiative is to foster a joining of hearts and minds of a diverse range of people.”

Source: Daily Times

Date: August 1, 2019


China to help Federal Board of Revenue reduce misdeclarations

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China have decided to enter into an agreement to control misdeclaration at the country’s ports as the menace has been causing massive revenue losses and hurting foreign investment.

The decision comes at a time when the government is taking measures to control corruption within the customs department systematically.

“We have authorised Pakistan’s ambassador to China Naghmana Hashmi to sign the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU),” said the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Zaidi on Monday.

The draft for the MoU was prepared by China’s State Administration of Taxes to enable tax authorities from both Islamabad and Beijing to share data and learn from each other’s best practices.

China has come a long way in controlling misdeclaration at ports. According to some estimates, at one stage, total misdeclaration at Chinese ports had reached $7-8 billion per annum however that number has decreased significantly over the years.

Both Pakistani and Chinese customs authorities have yet to agree on the variations of their reported figures.

The misdeclarations are usually of three kinds: value of goods, description (Pakistan Customs Tariff heading) and weight. It can also occur by availing wrong exemptions.

The FBR chairman told Dawn that under the proposed agreement, China will provide on the spot information regarding exports to Pakistan. “This cooperation on government to government level will help control 1misdeclaration,” Zaidi hoped.

The local markets are flooded with misdeclared imported goods. An internal review of the customs department has identified a wide margin of misdeclaration in value and quantity of imported goods from China, a senior customs officer told Dawn.

“Entry of goods into the markets without passing through proper channels is not possible without the connivance of customs officers”, he said while adding that the data has been shared with the Chinese authorities for reconciliation.

“We will tackle this menace through automation”, the chairman said, adding that these illegal goods are now being sold in every market across the country.

China is sharing data with Pakistan in a very limited way on products covered under the free trade agreement on quarterly basis. “We need this sharing of data on the spot to control the misdeclaration”, the chairman said.

The FBR had initiated action against misdeclaration after data from Web-Based One Customs System Glo (WeBOC-Glo) was analysed.

The data showed around 62 per cent of the total 69,000 goods declarations showed differences in assessed value and declared value of goods. On the other hand, around 21pc of the misdeclarations were made in weight and quantity.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2019

Author: Mubarak Zeb Khan

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Huawei plans $170mln investment in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Chinese multinational technology company Huawei Group on Wednesday unveiled $170 million investment plan to set up its regional headquarters and upgrade technical support centre in Pakistan.

Huwaei Group Vice President Mark Xueman said Pakistan is a strategic market for the company. “The company will invest around $100 million in the country this year,” Xueman said during a meeting with Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Khusro Bakhtyar.

“Huawei will also set up a regional headquarters in Islamabad at a cost of $55 million that will create job opportunities for young engineers in Pakistan.” Huawei’s official further informed the minister that the company would also invest $15 million more in its technical support centre and it will also hire more workforce for the centre, taking the number of its staff to 800 from 600 this year.

“Huawei is eager to initiate more projects in Pakistan on grant funding from Chinese government,” Xueman said. Huwaei Group Vice President was leading a delegation of businessmen. Minister Bakhtyar assured the delegation of all cooperation in future joint ventures.

Planning minister, while appreciating the company’s continued engagement in the country, said the leading technological company could support the development and upgrading of information and technology sector in Pakistan.

Chinese government initiated $62 billion worth of infrastructure development projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework. Most of the projects pertain to energy sector. While the first stage of CPEC has almost completed, the next stage focuses industrial developments.

Pakistan is fast-growing telecom market with subscribers of mobile phones having crossed the 160 million mark compared with the country’s population of 210 million. Of total subscribers, 68 million use 3G/4G. There are 70 million broadband subscribers.

The country imports millions of dollars of mobile phones to meet the local requirements with manufacturing and assembling of handheld devices not present in the country. Planning minister said Huawei has 25 percent share in the country’s mobile industry and is also the top taxing paying Chinese company in the country.

The minister appreciated Huawei’s engagement with the Higher Education Commission for smart schools project, providing latest information and communications technology equipment.

Bakhtyar underlined a need of exploring new business models for future projects and joint ventures in the country. “Huawei can contribute to the e-governance initiative as well in centralising data to improve efficiency and productivity.”

The minister said Huawei could support IT start-up projects to benefit the youth in this important sector. Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan, Project Director CPEC Hassan Daud and senior officials of the ministry were also present at the meeting.

Source: The News

Date: 18/7/2019

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Pakistan’s CPEC affords good opportunities for M’sian businesses, says high commissioner

Malaysian business communities and key players are urged to seize the opportunities offered within Pakistan’s market, specifically the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Malaysian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ikram Mohammad Ibrahim, said the CPEC project — a 15-year master plan under the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative — is a chance for local businessmen to look into, and penetrate, the market which includes roads and railways that would stretch from the Western Chinese city of Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang province to Pakistan’s second-largest port of Gwadar.

“Ever since the recent governments’ changes and exchanges of the head of states’ visits, the countries are now moving to a greater level of partnership and cooperation.

“The CPEC megaproject is a huge market opportunity that could not be missed by Malaysian business players. This is where the Malaysia-Pakistan Business Council (MALPAK) should play their big role in facilitating business meetings and help to boost the business linkages on both ends,” said Ikram to Bernama International News Service at the Pakistan-Malaysia Business Opportunities Conference (BOC), here, today.

The BOC gathered more than 300 participants — including about 150 Malaysian companies — representing various sectors including tourism, pharmaceutical, chemical, plastic, textile, surgical goods, furniture and construction.

Organised by the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), a business chamber from Pakistan, the BOC is a prelude to the Chamber’s 32nd Achievement Award ceremony scheduled for tomorrow night, with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the guest of honour.

Concurring with Ikram, Pakistan’s Charge d’Affaires to Malaysia, Atif Sharif Mian, said CPEP would continue to create more joint investments in the long run.

“In terms of Pakistan’s context, the project is a US$40-50 billion (RM165-RM207 billion) investment and it is going to upgrade all the infrastructures as well as across other (sectors of) Pakistan’s economy. It is a big corridor and definitely will bring in more traffic for investments.

“Malaysia, in this regard, is globally known as good at providing services and expertise on railways, roadways and construction, thus the country can also invest in this project,” said Atif.

Aimed at increasing regional connectivity for the economic development of Pakistan and China, the economic corridor is also reported to benefit Iran, Afghanistan, India and the Central Asian region.

Earlier in his welcoming speech of the event today, Atif said Malaysia and Pakistan could do more to increase and enhance the bilateral ties shared to date.

“The focus of the BOC today is also to promote and engage the private sectors from both sides because at the end of the day, though governments have helped to facilitate the efforts, it is the private sectors that would need to find opportunities for increasing trade and investments’ purposes,” he said.

Total trade between Malaysia and Pakistan stood at RM5.91 billion last year, an increase of 2.5 per cent compared to RM5.76 billion in 2017.

Pakistan is Malaysia’s third-largest trading partner in South Asia.

The diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Pakistan were established in 1957. — Bernama



SEZ under CPEC may be inaugurated by month-end

The inaugural session of Rashakai Special Economic Zone, under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is expected to be held by the end of July, sources in the Board of Investment (BoI) said. An investment worth $138 million is expected from China in this industrial zone and it is among three SEZs which will be developed within next two years.

The BoI will focus on the development of three SEZs – Rashakai Economic Zone, M-1, Nowshera, China Special Economic Zone Dhabeji and Allama Iqbal Industrial City (M3), Faisalabad in the next two years. China agreed to facilitate operationalisation of at least one SEZ under CPEC as Pakistan is yet to show progress on the remaining zones. Among the Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs)/agreements signed between Pakistan and China on the conclusion of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s second visit to China in April, joint venture and license agreements were also signed between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zones Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC) and China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) for cooperation in operationalising Rashakai SEZ in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The two are engaged in the final stages of finalizing and signing the concession agreement, following which the ground breaking of the project will take place. While the concession agreement has been finalized however utility services to the zone are yet to be provided.

Pakistan had requested China’s cooperation in developing at least one SEZ. Rashakai Industrial Zone in Nowshera would consist of 1,000 acres of land and focus on fruit, food packaging and textile stitching/knitting. There is a requirement of 209 MW of electricity and 30 mmcfd gas for this SEZ. The first SEZ at Rashakai will be inaugurated during the current month, where 20 factories would be set up initially.

Dhabeji Industrial Zone also consists of 1,000 acres of land and would target foundries, steel, building material, petrochemical, automotive and allied, light engineering, textile and garments etc. It requires 200MW electricity and 15 mmcfd gas. The sources said that more than 790MW electricity and 200 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) gas will be required for nine SEZs envisaged under CPEC.

The BoI has prepared a comprehensive plan for fast-track development of notified seven SEZs in the next two years. The Board is the Secretariat of CPEC identified nine SEZs but has notified only seven which have been facing land acquisition, provision of utility services, security and other infrastructure issues.

The Board would take the proposed plan with a time line for revival of these SEZs to the committee of approvals to be headed by the recently appointed Chairman Board of Investment Zubair Gilani.

The nine SEZs include: (1) Rashakai Comprehensive SEZ, Nowshera, KP, (2) Allama Iqbal Industrial City, Faisalabad, (3) China Special Economic Zone, Dhabejji Thatta, (4) IT Park, Islamabad, (5) Bostan Industrial Zone, Balochistan, (6) SEZ Port Qasim Karachi, (7) Moondash SEZ, Gilgit-Baltistan, (8) Mirpur SEZ, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and (9) Momand Marbel City, TATA.

The government has proposed additional incentives for industrial zones, for example one window operation by Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZA), bulk purchase of basic utilities and renting out of sheds for industrial use, etc, and all SEZs in Pakistan will be open for investors not only from China but from all over the world.

Source: Business Recorder

Date: 7th July 2019

Author: Wasim Iqbal


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

Date: 19/6/2019