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CPEC: beyond infrastructure

Recently, I came across a very interesting research undertaken by a private sector firm that ranked the 67 Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries to assess their attractiveness for investment and infrastructure. The research was based on publicly available data from the IMF, World Bank, UNDP and Transparency International.

On this Belt and Road Index, Pakistan was ranked the 11th least attractive country. The index was based on economic potential, demographic advantage, infrastructure development, institutional effectiveness, market accessibility and resilience to natural disasters. Out of the six parameters, Pakistan performed the worst on institutional effectiveness, with a score that was less than half of India’s and lowest within South Asia, surpassing only that of Afghanistan.

The results are not surprising and resonate rather well with data from other sources as well as with anecdotal evidence. A few weeks ago, I met an investor, who has set up a multi-million dollar manufacturing plant in Pakistan on an industrial plot in a government-sponsored industrial estate. To his dismay, the land title still is in the name of private individuals and despite knocking on various doors he has not had any luck in the last two years in transferring the title in his name, despite payment of all dues. In the meanwhile, his lenders are pushing for ownership record before he can access credit.

This is one of countless such examples. Investors keep on complaining about bureaucratic red tape, rent seeking by regulatory agencies and frequently changing policies leading to unforeseen costs.

About $46 billion worth of infrastructure projects have been committed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). These have to be completed within 10 years or so. For a country with $300 billion GDP, it translates into additional 1 to 1.5% of GDP every year and provides the much needed capital to build north-south highways to facilitate trade and construct power plants to help overcome years of load-shedding.

Infrastructure development and growth go hand in hand. Ensuring uninterrupted supply of energy, building state-of-the-art road, rail and transport infrastructure and providing reliable urban services pave the way for future investments and growth. If, however, the infrastructure stock is not maintained and new investments are not made at the requisite level, it may lead to power shortages and transmission losses, congested roads prolonging travel time and poor quality infrastructure services discouraging investors to relocate, thereby straining growth prospects.

But the real question is whether good infrastructure is sufficient to attract investment. As per World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, the five most problematic factors for doing business in Pakistan are corruption, tax rates, government instability, crime and inefficient government bureaucracy. Availability of infrastructure comes way lower in the list. This means that without addressing these soft yet potent issues, no amount of investment in hard infrastructure can convince the investors to invest.

The stories of Rajapaksa Airport and Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka have been frequently quoted by critics of CPEC and BRI, as examples of misplaced priorities and building expensive infrastructure without demand. With ten times more population than Sri Lanka and a strategically located port, Pakistan does not face the same risk of low demand. If anything, the CPEC road infrastructure can provide a very busy transit and trade route in future. Its special economic zones can host manufacturers that wish to relocate closer to their markets and the power plants can provide energy for the new industries. This is where the real returns on CPEC have to be expected.

This however would require a lot of homework domestically in addressing the softer issues. Without an enabling business environment, Pakistan can never achieve the dream of prosperity that has been promised under CPEC. And this would require fixing governance. Sooner or later, we’ll have to realise that there are no shortcuts to reform.

SOURCE:https://tribune.com.pk/story/1738036/6-cpec-beyond-infrastructure/

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CPEC will help Pakistan progress only if we band together as a country

It has been five years since an aggressive development plan was initiated in Pakistan. What I am talking about is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the pilot project of BRI. The ambitious road network is scheduled to be completed by 2030.

The first five years are gone. The first phase is successfully accomplished with the completion of several infrastructure and energy projects. Everybody knows that no development project can be completed without considering these two sectors.

Today, Pakistan is on its way to accelerated economic growth. This is a splendid achievement for the government. Just a few years ago, such progress would have sounded ludicrous to Pakistanis.

The second phase of the project is expected to focus on special economic zones (SEZs) in Pakistan. The Pakistan Army played a pivotal role in ensuring security for this mega development project. Every single person in the country is trying to relate themselves to the benefits and outcomes of CPEC. But there is a dire need to understand the nature of collective benefit for the country.

“Today, Pakistan is on its way to accelerated economic growth. This is a splendid achievement. Just a few years ago, such progress would have sounded ludicrous to Pakistanis”

Unfortunately, nationalism has been lacking most of the times whenever it is needed. Nationalism has always been seen only during war times. But when it comes to peacetime and development processes, it becomes irrelevant to the nation. People from all walks of life focus only on their particular vested interests.

CPEC has come up with multiple opportunities and diversified goals. Therefore, the nation needs to be united until the end of this project to get most out of it.

Some of the SEZs planned for the country include, Rashakai Economic Zone (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), China Special Economic Zone (Dhabeji, Sindh), Bostan Industrial Zone (Balochistan), Allama Iqbal Industrial City (Faisalabad, Punjab), ICT Model Industrial Zone (Islamabad), Industrial Park on Pakistan Steel Mills Land at Port Qasim (Karachi), Special Economic Zone (Mirpur, AJK), Mohmand Marble City (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), and Moqpondass SEZ (Gilgit-Baltistan). The project will add a lot more to the economy of Pakistan, including several industries that are sure to boost our economic stability, rate of employment, GDP, and more. CPEC includes a plethora of industrial projects – many of which are needed for a transitional economy to succeed.

Some of the projects have already started, and some need more planning and will be completed later on. The amount of foreign investment coming into the country had been on the rise since 2010.However, since CPEC began in 2014, it has been increasing at a faster rate. This change can be seen below:

It is very important to spread word among the masses about the importance of CPEC. We must come together as a nation now so that we can build a stronger Pakistan.

SOURCE:https://dailytimes.com.pk/254333/cpec-will-help-pakistan-progress-only-if-we-band-together-as-a-country/

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‘CPEC is not a gift’: Professor Jia Yu at the CPEC 2018 Summit

Pakistan should not take CPEC for granted, writes Dr. Jia Yu. Both public and private sectors must take ownership of the opportunities.

 

The economic relations between the two countries have been phenomenal, especially since the turn of the century. Early economic cooperation was based on political and security interests, like Karakoram Highway, nuclear capability, arms trade etc. Also, it was focussed on energy and mining, but there is now a need for diversification. Pakistan has to take advantage of China’s rise on the global scene. There is a tendency towards having even better economic relations based on market forces and there is a lot of under-exploited potentials.

When it comes to win-win cooperation, of course, there is a lot at stake for both countries. Pakistan’s interests lie in promoting growth, private sector investment, employment, exports, technology and transfer of skills as well as in the relocation of Chinese firms. China’s interests lie in overseas production bases, new export markets, energy cooperation, and its need for production capacity relocation.

A successful execution of CPEC will ensure economic progress and stability for both the countries, particularly along the border region.

The two countries signed the FTA in 2006 which came into effect a year later. The FTAs play a major role in the general tendency of increasing trade. Surprisingly, the trade has been relatively low compared to the other neighbors (India, Vietnam, Philippines etc.). And there is a large and widening trade imbalance that needs to be worked on.

There has been a considerable increase in FDI since 2014 which is a positive sign for both China and Pakistan. The main FDI sectors by priority are: power, construction, financial services, and communication. There is, however, very little FDI in the light manufacturing sector.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a $900 billion investment, with finance channels targeting green development. It connects more than 60 countries, 60pc of the global population, 30pc of global GDP, and 35pc of global trade.

CPEC, a central link of BRI, cuts 10,000 miles of shipping by sea, and connects ports from Shanghai to Africa and Europe through Gwadar.

PAKISTAN AND CPEC

If things work out smoothly, Pakistan could use the FDI in its power and transport infrastructure and then in the manufacturing sector with the experience of leveraging SEZs to unlock this trio’s potential for rapid gains in job-rich industrialization. This can be done without unrealistic pre-requirements as the work to lay the foundations for industrialization has already begun.

The potentials are outlined below along with policy options needed to convert them into actions. At a regional level, Pakistan has been growing steadily in terms of GDP per capita since 2010, according to the World Bank. Investors are very keen to a growing economy. Consistent growth of purchasing power (GDP per capita) really matters for domestic consumption; therefore the growth rate must be maintained to catch up with competitors.

Pakistan is one of the world’s largest reservoirs of human capital and has a tremendous potential consumer base. In 2016, the country was home to 193,203,476 people, being the world’s 6th most populous country. World Economic Forum estimates that it will be among the top five populous countries in the world by 2060.

However, a large population is necessary but not sufficient to attract investors. The population has to be equipped with adequate skills to meet industrialization needs. An effort is also needed to attract global buyers.

Thirdly, China and Pakistan have long hailed each other as “all-weather friends”, or “iron brothers” as close as “lips and teeth” in the words of The Economist. There is already solid trust between the two countries, but the Pakistani officials need to visit China more often to convince the private investors for investment opportunities in Pakistan.

The CPEC will improve road, air, sea, and energy infrastructure. It will ensure land, sea and air security. It will enhance trade and investment facilitation and will establish free trade areas that meet high standards, maintain closer economic ties, and deepen political trust. Also, it will enhance cultural exchanges and promote mutual understanding, peace, and friendship between the people of the two countries.

Having said that, the CPEC should not be considered just a ‘gift’ from China, but the Pakistani government should also establish an FDI Advisory Board that shall promote the new image of the country. This includes visiting China more often and ensuring that investors understand the opportunities and benefits available under the CPEC.

Besides, according to the State Bank of Pakistan in November 2017, the country received net FDI worth $207 million out of which $206 million came from China. Potential investors pay significant attention to first movers, other Chinese investors may follow and eventually stay in Pakistan if the government helps the pioneers to be successful.

In terms of binding constraints, a study case of Malaysia estimates that FDI can effectively contribute to growth if it is at least 3.14pc of GDP. Pakistan should be able to compete. This requires overcoming the binding constraints by addressing security issues and risks, hard infrastructure challenges, especially SEZ-specific constraints like energy, roads to SEZs etc. Soft infrastructure challenges include corruption, rule of the law, coordination among institutions, inadequate capacity and cultural biases. Absorption capacity can be adjusted by setting yearly realistic targets of FDI amount.

There are six steps to identify the right industries, as narrated by Prof. Justin Lin. They include identifying countries with consistent growth, with GDP per capita three times as Pakistan’s or was at the same level as Pakistan 30 years ago.

Next comes investigating the existing private investment in those target industries and encourage its development by leasing the market regulations. Attracting global investors into the target industries which lack existing domestic private investment is the third step, followed by paying attention to new enterprises and supporting innovation in the target industries.

Establishing and developing SEZs to eliminate entering barriers, attracting foreign investment, and encouraging industrial cluster. And, finally, providing policy incentives for the first movers, including tax reduction, foreign exchange access, etc.

THE WAY FORWARD

Development can start from ‘low-hanging fruit’ through SEZs. The government should attract first movers to invest and help the pioneers succeed.

CPEC should not be taken for granted. A proactive and systematic approach is needed for attracting investors, together with strong market factors.

Despite long-term and solid trust at the government level, more mutual dialogues and exchanges need to be enhanced in the private sector. Let the peoples get to understand each other.

CPEC and SEZs are open for all investors, including those from other countries beyond China.

The writer is a professor at the Institute of New Structural Economics (INSE), Peking University, China.

SOURCE: https://www.dawn.com/news/1409721

 

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CPEC — a solution to the Kashmir issue?

In December 2017, China offered the Afghan government a chance to become part of their ambitious $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). At the same time, they made it clear that the project was not in any way directed against India and that no third party should be concerned with its progress. This came after India complained that the corridor passes through Gilgit-Baltistan (GB)in Pakistan-administered Kashmir which is a territory claimed by both India and Pakistan.

After negotiating a border stand-off at Doklam Plateau (China-Bhutan disputed border) both India and China indicated that they wanted to build peaceful relations by solving their bilateral disputes through diplomacy instead of armed conflicts. Pakistan wants to follow the same path, and open a dialogue with India in order for CPEC to develop without any problems. However, another solution could be that the government of Pakistan could instead refer to the people of this region. The Kashmiris and the people of GB could also be brought into the loop. They could finally have the plebiscite that was promised these people by the UNCIP resolution so many years ago.  But this will never happen.

Pakistan fears the outcome of the plebiscite. Why do you think Pakistan has been so reluctant to grant GB provincial status? The usual response from Islamabad is that its due to its disputed nature yet the reality is quite different.

After the 18th amendment was passed under Asif Ali Zardari’s government, provinces were granted a semblance of autonomy. However, if GB was given provincial status, it would control its own economic and administrative polices and could claim a larger share of the benefits from CPEC. Another reason was their small population size of only two million people. If they were granted provincial status then the people of FATA, Southern Punjab, the Potohar region and Karachi could also end up demanding provincial status and full autonomy. Thus, by issuing Order 2018, Islamabad has made certain that the centre continues to enjoy the economic benefits and administrative powers that would’ve instead been under the control of the people of GB themselves.

In case of Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK), Islamabad amended the Interim Act of 1974. The legislative, monetary and administrative status of the Kashmir Council has been reduced to an advisory role, with all powers reverted to the office of the prime minister. By reinforcing Section 7 of the Interim Act, and adding an additional clause, the government has essentially restricted the freedom movement in AJK and disillusioned the locals.

In October 2017, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani categorically said that his country would join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) only if Islamabad allows connectivity between India and Afghanistan. Mentioning sovereignty issues raised by India, Ghani also warned that if Afghanistan was not given transit access to Wagah and Attari for trade with India via Pakistan, then Kabul would also restrict Islamabad’s access to central Asia. When Pakistan and India both reluctant to sit down for a civilised talk, China decided to use backdoor channels to open a dialogue with India and convince them to cooperate with Pakistan. As a result, an Indian delegation was spotted at a March 23 parade in Islamabad, and later the same year at the Shanghai Co-operation Summit.

“What the region needs is a strong group of leaders who are not afraid to take on the collective might of the Indian and Pakistani governments, in order to fight for the disenfranchised people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir”

Now there is an interim government in charge. They have limited powers and this provides the establishment a freehand. As a first step the ISPR (Inter Services Public Relations) on May,29 2018 (soon after the announcement of interim PM) tweeted the first sign of the establishment’s anticipated strategy to calm tensions with India. The director generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both countries agreed to a ceasefire agreement on the border, including the LOC in AJK. India for their part realise that the only time relations with their neighbours to the West got better, was under Musharraf’s rule, which is why they believe talking to the establishment will lead to better results with respect to CPEC. If this turns out to be true, then India will be given the green light to join CPEC in the coming weeks. It would benefit them greatly as it would open up markets in central Asia, and, at the same time, ease tensions with Pakistan.

 

In the end, CPEC seems like a great opportunity for all countries involved yet there is one important community that is being ignored in all of this, the people of GB and AJK. If there had been a strong and unified leadership in the region then perhaps they could have used this opportunity to pressurise Pakistan, and India in to giving them more autonomy and letting them be in charge of their own fate.

However, current leaders are not brave enough to make these sacrifices and are, instead, happy to take whatever scraps Islamabad throws at them. What the region needs is a strong group of leaders who are not afraid to take on the collective might of the Indian and Pakistani governments, in order to fight for the disenfranchised people of GB and AJK. Only then can the years of oppression they have suffered through finally come to a stop and its citizens get the freedom they have craved for so long.

SOURCE:https://dailytimes.com.pk/250530/cpec-a-solution-to-the-kashmir-issue/

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Chinese ambassador meets Caretaker PM, briefs him on CPEC

Ambassador of China Yao Jing, Tuesday, called on Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (R) Nasirul Mulk and briefed him about the historic friendly relations that existed between China and Pakistan. He was paying a visit to Prime Minister to congratulate him on his assuming office of the prime minister of Pakistan.
The ambassador while congratulating the premiere briefed him about the various projects under the ongoing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and informed that these projects were going on fast-track and will be completed on their expected time. Ambassador Yao Jing also conveyed greetings from the Chinese leadership to the Prime Minister on assuming office.
He said that China attached great importance to China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership. In recent years, with the joint efforts of both sides, China-Pakistan relations have achieved fruitful results. The CPEC embodies the achievements of the two countries’ mutually beneficial cooperation and marks a new height in China-Pakistan relations.
At the same time, comprehensive exchanges and cooperation in various fields such as economy, trade, people-to-people exchanges and education have been conducted. The two countries have cooperated closely in international and regional affairs, effectively safeguarding the common interests of both parties. China hopes that Pakistan will maintain political stability and complete major domestic political processes smoothly.
China wishes the caretaker government to successfully organize the election, and hopes that the PM and the caretaker government will continue to promote friendly cooperation between China and Pakistan. China believes that regardless of the outcome of the election, China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership will continue to advance. Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk while expressing his gratitude to the Chinese envoy held that both the countries had the same vision of common prosperity and shared destiny of progress of their people.

SOURCE: https://pakobserver.net/chinese-ambassador-meets-caretaker-pm-briefs-him-on-cpec/

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Businessmen ask parties to elucidate policy on CPEC

LAHORE – The Lahore Businessmen Front, the opposition group of traders and industrialists at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has urged the political parties to elucidate their policy regarding China Pakistan Economic Corridor in (CPEC) their economic agenda to the business community before the forthcoming general elections.

FPCCI standing committee chairman and LBF senior leader Sardar Usman Ghani criticised the government for not taking into account the concerns of local businesses regarding the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor.

He said the corridor has a deep rooted implication for the region stretching from Pakistan, China, Iran, Central Asia to USA and India.

He said that the inflow of Chinese investment and business enterprises will adversely impact the interests of Pakistani business communities, urging the government to announce the same incentives to the local investors declared for foreign investors of China Pakistan Economic Corridor in  projects.

He said that successive past governments and present rulers had totally neglected the business and industrial sectors. He said that political parties besides convincing general voters should also give a clear road map to improve the falling exports and support the deteriorating economy.

He stressed that all political parties should develop a consensus on the economic roadmap to make Pakistan a strong economy.

He said the charter of the economy was absolutely necessary for achieving better economic growth and all political parties should rise above their political interests and develop a consensus on the economic roadmap and national economic agenda to put Pakistan on the path of sustainable economic growth.

SOURCE:https://nation.com.pk/03-Jun-2018/businessmen-ask-parties-to-elucidate-policy-on-cpec

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CPEC: A momentum for prosperity

In a world defined by unexpected conflicts, CPEC and BRI have the potential to push these trajectories into altogether different directions. For Pakistan it will mean trading conflict and insecurity for peace and prosperity, argues the Senate’s Leader of the Opposition, Sherry Rehman.

The CPEC Summit 2018 was an important event with a distinguished group of thought leaders. In a conference full of unconventional wisdoms and cutting edge info, a lower‑riparian speaker’s job was quite unenviable. In more ways than one, the summit signalled Pakistan’s commitment to change and growth. What it signalled bang in the middle of election year was Pakistan’s agreement across the board on one thing: no one wants to be left out of this momentum.

The first thing that came to mind at a big‑ticket CPEC conference in Pakistan was that we are currently standing at a nodal pivot in Pakistan and China’s long‑established special relationship; but what also came to mind is that we are at an axial point where the world is rapidly turning in a re‑calibration of its priorities. Amidst the noise of dangerous new global conflicts that threaten the peace and prosperity of many nations, and fires that engulf entire regions, CPEC and BRI signal another engine moving relentlessly on, in entirely another direction of growth and peace. We can literally hear the wheels of a bold new order shift its shape under our feet.

We can also see the pulsation of the pointless regional neuralgia this partnership is giving some. My advice to them is that, they really shouldn’t worry, but instead join this enterprise.

It is truly the Asian Century. By linking the Atlantic to the Pacific through BRI, President Xi Jinping’s China is poised to redefine the global economic order as we know it, and change the way we think about the world. As the tracks for new global connectivity reframe human enterprise, with Gwadar as its launching pad, and Malacca not the only option, China becomes a two‑ocean power. This is both commercially relevant and strategically significant. As a key part of the constitution of the Peoples Republic, One Belt One Road (OBOR) has now cemented its place in the wheelworks of China’s long‑term vision of progress through economic partnerships. It is a projection of soft power unparalleled in the 21st century.

All this is relevant to Pakistan obviously in ways no other grand plan for exporting surplus was. Today, as we see China’s investments in Pakistan materialising through CPEC, I am clear that a major part of its success is powered by the groundwork and foundation PPP’s government provided.

Under [the then] President Zardari’s leadership, rooted in Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s revolutionary vision to share the Chinese Communist Party’s goals, and PM Benazir Bhutto’s brilliant championing of this joint vision, Pakistan’s relationship with China has gone into another dimension altogether. President Zardari’s vision was based on a grand idea for pivoting to the East at a time when the rest of the world was still busy calling on other capitals. This vision is shared and will be carried on forward by PPP under Chairman Bilawal Bhutto‑Zardari’s leadership.

PPP understood the grand Chinese dream well. Providing state support and strategic access to our warm waters was part of the vision. Therefore, we knew that Chinese development stewardship for Gwadar Port was pivotal to the CPEC becoming a reality.

CPEC has already created 60,000 jobs and Pakistanis would likely be able to make the most of these opportunities. We need trained manpower though.

Over the years, all of us have worked closely with Chinese officials and investors in facilitating projects, people‑to‑people relationships, cultural exchanges, and, most importantly, ensuring the security of everyone involved in CPEC projects. As we speak, 2,700 students from Pakistan were granted scholarships to study in China with thousands already learning Mandarin across the country. This kind of exchange is as important as big‑scale projects. Because building trust between peoples is what binds countries together in ties that sustain the tests of time, in all weathers and all storms.

As the first container ship sailed into Gwadar in March, CPEC has already started making an impact in all provinces in order to bring prosperity. We have a long way to go in providing safe drinking water and schools to the people of Gwadar, but I am glad to see that social responsibility and signature projects are beginning to complement each other.

This must be something we work on together as early projects start harvesting into reality. Everywhere there is an industrial park or SEZ, a port or energy project, there should be a groundswell of children going to schools, functioning healthcare units and waste‑to‑ energy plants, which China is so good at doing at every level. The responsibility for this lies with Pakistan, and with the provinces too, but I urge our Chinese friends to double their interest and investment in social development as they are doing already in partnership with UNDP in Balochistan.

We are proud to say that the forward‑looking government of Sindh has also been leading the way in renewable energy projects to bring prosperity. Sindh province contributes 930 megawatts of wind energy to the national grid with the help of CPEC projects. In line with this, the federal government should allow the use of renewable energy in Sindh.

As part of our history of joint cooperation, PPP looks forward to continuing to work closely with local and Chinese stakeholders in achieving our common goals and interests for the betterment of our people and the region. Two ports are now operating in their optimal capacities and other commercial ports, including the important Keti Bunder, are under development in partnership with the Chinese.

But CPEC is not a one‑party or one‑province ambition. It is a national project that goes beyond infrastructural development and we will stand by all efforts to create consensus and operationalise this grand ambition. Consensus‑building among political parties and provinces is crucial as the windfall from this venture can change the game for Pakistan.

Pakistan is not equivocal about its relationship with China. Right now, as we see promises turning into projects, the widespread public ownership of the ‘feel‑ good’ factor that China generates in Pakistan continues as do questions about equity transparency spread. With a multi‑billion dollar investment like CPEC, responsibilities and obligations for both Pakistan and China double. Transparency and equitability are the foundations for which an initiative with a scale as grand as CPEC must be built on.

As CPEC rolls out in Pakistan, there are three obvious areas to focus on: economy, environment and security.

It is undeniable that as an infrastructure and investment pipeline, CPEC has the potential of taking Pakistan into a quantum leap of prosperity and peace. It is believed that Chinese investment can stimulate a 15pc increase in Pakistan’s GDP by 2030 and would likely create over a million jobs across multiple sectors in Pakistan which will in return bring prosperity. While still in its very early stages, CPEC has already created 60,000 jobs and we hope that Pakistanis would be able to capitalise on this new job market. We need more Pakistanis trained to hold down these jobs.

However, development does not start and end at infrastructure and economic growth. We must also look into tech‑knowledge sharing and collaborations as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The development of regional value chains, a phenomenon that has entirely reshaped global trade in recent decades, is a particularly exciting prospect. Pakistan is well‑positioned to gain from this shift and CPEC is the perfect opportunity to bring advanced manufacturing and production practices to the country.

We have a responsibility to empower our youth and Pakistan can be a powerhouse of opportunities. Almost 60pc of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30, making it the country’s most important demographic. To put that in context, three out of five Pakistanis are under the age of 30, full of hope and energy, but most without real employment prospects. Close to 60pc of them are currently in unstable or underpaying jobs and about 35pc are working in unpaid jobs. CPEC has given the millions of young people who enter the workforce every year a renewed hope and prosperity. We have a joint task to find ways in which we can tap into the potential of Pakistan’s youth and expand their growth, and look at ways to accelerate youth employment and skill training and to bring prosperity to this region. I look forward to working with the Chinese leadership on ensuring that more jobs and skills are created for Pakistanis.

As CPEC grows, Pakistan and China must look into a broader range of ventures and issues where we can cooperate and work on, one of which is environmental protection and climate change. Pakistan currently is the 7th most vulnerable country in the world to climate change. Pakistan’s carbon emissions are expected to double in two years and surge 14 times by 2050, which is way more than the global average. Given my travels in China, I know that the People’s Republic is no stranger to challenges brought about by climate change.

The enormous industrial investments and projects that will come with CPEC can be amplified if we prioritise creating a clean energy economy. I can only hope that we safeguard the future of the generations to come and that what we do today, in the name of progress, does not create new challenges for them. We hope that the Chinese government can bring to Pakistan the clean energy initiatives they have strictly enforced at home. We are old friends, and whom else can you ask for more, except from friends. Together, we must resolve to move towards eco‑friendly, sustainable and renewable energy sources.

Let me reiterate, if there is one thing that Pakistanis agree on, it is CPEC’s vision of human security, economic cooperation, reform and joint prosperity. As an economic bloc, South Asia will be one of the wealthiest regions in the world, with markets and growth vectors second only to China. At the same time, the region is also forecast for growing inequality, land hunger, poverty‑based migrations, water stress, and social deficits. These trends can be divisive in a region already crackling with tensions.

We believe that CPEC will create a new engine for reinvigorating innovation and ingenuity not just in both the countries but for the region as well. It is this cooperation, innovation and ingenuity that will drive the project of peace in a world divided by inequities, conflicts and social disorder.

The CPEC Summit once again highlighted the Chinese government’s unfaltering cooperation, support and friendship to the people of Pakistan. The future really does lie in peace through economic partnerships. Let us hope our roadmaps take our young people into a brighter, energised, connected millennium.

The writer is Leader of the Opposition, Senate of Pakistan.

SOURCE: https://www.dawn.com/news/1409514

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Karachi Expo Centre to be re-modelled for CPEC

Karachi: Federal government initiated remodeling and expansion of the Karachi Expo Centre (KEC) at the cost of Rs 8 billion within next four years to accommodate growing number of exhibitors and visitors.

The purpose of the expansion was to make the Expo Centre compatible with China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Groundbreaking ceremony of the project was performed by Secretary Commerce, Muhammad Younus Dagha in Karachi Expo Centre.

KEC is being expanded and re-modelled to incorporate new facilities. A total of three more exhibition halls would be added to the Centre. Presently, the centre has six halls.

Under the remodelling project, a convention centre for holding trade related conferences, a multi storey information technology (IT) tower for offices and other facilities including a parking lot would be constructed.

The master plan of the project has been designed by the National Engineering Services Pakistan (NESPAK).

“We studied studied all major expo centers existing around the world and came up with the most modern concept of the designing. The project will have its own parking plaza which will be able to accommodate around 5000 vehicles”, said NESPAK Managing Director Arif Chengezi while expanding on the remodeling project.

Federal Secretary said that the purpose of the expansion project was not only to modernize the present centre but also to create capacity for meeting the ever increasing trade related needs of the country.

He said that the remodelling project was in perfect conformity with the government’s trade objective of earning more foreign exchange for financing the developmental needs of the country.

The Commerce Secretary applauded the role of trade development authority of Pakistan in pursuing the project and completing its legal formalities diligently.

He said that the Ministry of Commerce through video conferences with missions abroad had achieved quite a lot. In these conferences, added the secretary, the hurdles were identified and removed through collective expertise to enhance trade.

Commerce Secretary also appreciated the role of business community in increasing exports of the country this year. In the year 2017-18, the exports increased from July to April by 14 percent.

The Secretary added that there was a broad based expansion, in terms of both product sectors and destinations, in the exports this year.

He added that over all from July to April this year, our textile and clothing export had shown a growth of 8 percent, agro food had grown by 30 percent and other sectors like mineral and metal, engineering goods and surgical instruments had also respectively grown by 12 percent, 13 percent, and 14 percent. Exports to the USA had also increased by 17% . There was also an 8% increase in exports to UK and China both.

The expansion of the Karachi Expo Centre was not an isolated effort of the government. Only last year, Ministry of Commerce had launched an initiative titled “Emerging Pakistan” with the aim of promoting various strengths of the country and dispelling negative stereotypes about Pakistan, abroad.

The secretary informed the gathering that the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet had approved the three year expansion for the prime minister’s (PM) Export Enhancement package. He hoped that the same zeal would be shown to complete the project within the scheduled timeframe.

“The construction of IT tower is a special feature in the expansion and up gradation of the KEC, which will soon meet the needs of the service sector”, Secretary Commerce stated.

Secretary of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) Inam Ullah Khan while giving a brief overview of the Karachi Expo Centre said that many national exhibitions were held there. He explained that in these exhibitions, select buyers, from around the world, were shown the entire range of products made in the country.

Inam Ullah Khan said that KEC was being expanded and modernized in order to create a capacity for holding larger exhibitions for the country.

He also was of the view that the intended expansion of the KEC was in keeping with overall up-gradation of the infrastructure of the country under the CPEC.

He added that the expanded KEC would provide an export outlet to the series of special economic zones (SEZ) being established under the CPEC program in the country.

 

SOURCE: https://dailytimes.com.pk/247785/karachi-expo-centre-to-be-re-modelled-for-cpec/

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Mob attacks historic Ahmadi worship place in Sialkot

KARACHI:  A charged mob consisting of hundreds, including district officials, on Thursday razed two historic Ahmadi sites in Sialkot.

The men razed the sites in the early hours of Thursday claiming that the structures were ‘illegal’.

Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya (JA) press in-charge Aamir Mehmood told The Express Tribune that a 500-strong mob destroyed the Ahmadi worship place Baitul Mubarik and the historic residence of the Jamaat founder.

“[Mirza Ghulam Ahmad] had lived there. We were repairing the house. Municipal authorities, however, objected to this and sealed the structure,” Mehmood added.

At first, only municipal authorities men were vandalising Baitul Mubarik, later scores joined and proceeded to raze the age-old Ahmadiyya sites, a statement issued by JA said. Saleemuddin, another JA representative, further added that it was a tragedy that this incident occurred in the holy month of Ramazan and at such an important site for Ahmadis.

PTI condemns PML-N’s alleged pro-Ahmadi stance

JA and government officials confirmed that ownership of the structures was contested. The Sialkot DC had sealed the house a week ago.

While the structures were attacked early on Thursday, police claimed to have only become aware of the incident later in the morning. Mehmood said legal proceedings were already underway over the dispute.

“Dozens of municipal authority men were part of the mob that razed the structures without any [local administration] or court directive,” Mehmood said.

No one, neither area inhabitants or police personnel, tried to stop the mob from razing the structures, he said. “They continued to vandalise the structures till the early hours of Thursday. They returned once again after offering Fajr prayers,” Mehmood said.

Officials claimed that the strength of the mob was between 150-200 people.

DSP Irfan Butt said 15 to 20 were policemen were on site at the time.

Reiterating the stance of the municipal authorities, police also termed the structure “illegal” and defended the move to seal it.

Ahmadiyya community leader killed in gun attack

Documents available with The Express Tribune, however, show that the Sialkot Municipal authorities confirmed that the sole responsibility for the upkeep of the house lay with JA. The document also states that this would apply up till June 25, 2018. “Municipal authorities will not be responsible for any mishap on the site,” the document reads.

At the same time, an FIR filed on May 13 by TMA Enforcement Inspector Zakaullah states that the changes the owners of the house intended to make were in violation of the sanctioned structure. Zakaullah alleges that this is unlawful under the Punjab Local Government Act.

Separately, footage doing rounds on social media features the men scaling the worship place. Another video shows one of them thanking the Sialkot district for their ‘cooperation’.

“I want to thank the Sialkot administration, the DPO, DC, and Town Municipal Corporation, from the bottom of my heart.”

SOURCE: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1717928/1-mob-razes-historic-ahmadi-property-sialkot/

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Chinese Embassy awards 89 need-based scholarships

Chinese embassy has extended need-based scholarships to NUML students who are unable to meet their education expenses.

Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing distributed cheques of the Chinese Embassy Scholarships among 89 deserving students during his visit to National University of Modern Languages (NUML).

China is keen on promoting education in Pakistan, Ambassador Jing said. “These scholarships are just a token and humble contribution to educate the deserving Pakistani youth, he said adding the embassy will continue awarding the scholarships to the needy students annually.

Ambassador said that learning languages of each other is essential for enhancement of bilateral relations and future of both the countries lies on the young and energetic youth of both sides. He said that NUML has become a brand in China for learning languages and education. He vowed that amount of the scholarship will be increased in next year to give benefit to the maximum students.

Director General NUML Brig Muhammad Ibrahim in his address said that Sino-Pak friendship is deep-rooted and time-tested and such kind gestures will have positive impact on the relations of two countries.  It is important to mention that 300 students applied for the scholarship, 103 were called for interview after scrutiny and later by the independent committee recommended 89 students for the scholarship.

Capacity Building: Skills workshop ends at NUML

Ambassador said that learning languages of each other is essential for enhancement of bilateral relations. Future of both the countries is linked with the young and energetic youth of both sides, Jing said. He said that NUML has become a brand in China for learning languages and education. He vowed that amount of the scholarship will be increased next year to give benefit to the maximum students.

Chinese Cultural Counsellor You Yi, NUML Director General Brig Muhammad Ibrahim, varsity’s registrar, deans, directors and heads of departments, faculty members and students were present at the ceremony held at the NUML auditorium.

Chinese students briefed on security, threats

Ibrahim said Sino-Pak friendship is deep rooted and time tested and scholarships are going to further strengthen love of the people of Pakistan for China.

SOURCE: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1702621/1-chinese-embassy-awards-89-need-based-scholarships/