CPEC an opportunity to paint soft image: Swiss envoy

KARACHI: Pakistan needs to step up efforts to counter its negative image in many countries and portray the real picture to highlight its huge economic potential, CPEC an opportunity.

“Unfortunately, perception about Pakistan is generally negative,” noted Swiss Consul General Philippe Crevoisier while talking to APP at the inauguration of The Explorer Store – the first distributor of Swiss company Victorinox products in Karachi.

Japan Consul General Toshikazu Isomura, Bangladesh Deputy High Commissioner Noor-e-Helal Saifur Rahman, Victorinox International Sales Manager Lorenzo a Marca and Hazari Trading Company (authorised agents of Victorinox) Chief Executive Officer Aamir Hazari were present on the occasion. Victorinox produces quality knives and cutlery for household use.

Businessmen fear dumping of Chinese goods under CPEC

Crevoisier emphasised that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC an opportunity for Pakistan to build its soft image and boost national economy by attracting foreign investment.

It would help Pakistan increase trade with existing partners along with exploring new markets.

He pointed out that China was making big investment under CPEC and that would change the business environment in Pakistan. “This will also increase Pakistan-Switzerland trade,” he said. “I believe, the scenario will change after CPEC is completed.”

The envoy saw massive potential in Pakistan but its trade with Switzerland was not satisfactory and certain policy and logistical measures were required to increase it.

“Large Swiss companies are doing business in Pakistan, but small and medium enterprises are hesitant.”

In the last fiscal year, trade between Switzerland and Pakistan stood at $520 million which comprised $374 million worth of exports from Switzerland and $146 million in exports from Pakistan.

CPEC and Gwadar, CPEC an opportunity

Major export products of Switzerland were chemicals, pharmaceuticals and watches. Exports from Pakistan consisted of textile, leather products and food.

The envoy highlighted that in his one-and-a-half-year stay in Karachi, law and order had improved markedly.

Expressing pleasure over the inauguration of the Victorinox distribution chain, he voiced hope that more such businesses would be attracted to Pakistan.

Aamir Hazari stated that Victorinox already had 50 dealers in Pakistan, but now the first distribution company had been opened.

Lorenzo a Marca added the Swiss brand had a good share in 130 international markets and its sales were increasing.



Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia and CPEC

FOR their future generations Pakistan, Iran, China and Central Asia stand poised to transform trade and investment in the region through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Pakistan has always enjoyed favourable strategic position in its region. This explains China’s long standing interest in the country and its willingness to support the CPEC, which is a US $62 billion economic project. The economic corridor, seen as a pivotal stepping stone in the all weather China Pakistan relationship, will connect China’s autonomous Xinjiang region to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port. Opening new doors of economic opportunities in the region, around 3000 km mega project will have significant implications that can definitely change the dynamics of global economy and politics. This will help strengthen Pakistan’s economy and cement its position in the region. For China, CPEC will open new routes to the oil rich Middle East via the Arabian Sea. It will reinforce inter regional ties and enable the region to stand on its own, with minimal reliance on the West. Worrisome for a few, many countries are eyeing the US$62 billion corridor with interest. Pakistan has welcomed the wish of Central Asian Stated to join China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Much more than the other Central Asia States Tajikistan has responded significantly. Even Russia, which has had, at times, a tumultuous relationship with Pakistan, is now eager to honour the heart of the economic corridor.

With the possible inclusion of these new states, the possibility of CPEC becomes more tangible and resilient undoubtedly. For Pakistan, Iran’s inclusion will increase and multiply the corridor’s advantages and significance. For this reason, Pakistan extended an invitation to Tehran, which Iran reciprocated warmly and very timely. Iran’s economic growth has been stunted by global sanctions due to its nuclear program over the years. Iranian nuclear game, when implemented, will open up with new possibilities ahead. With ten percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, Iran’s entrance into the business world has gotten Pakistani trade and economic representatives to scramble Iran with the intention of win Iranian business interest. With billions of dollars worth of Iranian funds entering the global economy, nations are tweaking their financial plans to accommodate this surge of income. The oil rich nation’s admittance into the global market will drastically change the global oil market as well. Energy hungry/starved China is looking for alternative routes to import oil. With Iran in the loop China can double down on its access to Iranian oil. The dream of the Iran Pakistan gas pipeline can be completely realized. For Iran, China Pakistan Economic Corridor will provide the country with much needed accessibility to the east. For China, the corridor will provide an alternative route to the Gulf region through the Arabian Sea. The cost effective route will make it possible for China to expand its interactions with the markets of Central Asia, Middle East and Africa. With Iran’s opening up, Chinese exports could become increasingly competitive in Iran and onward. Iran is eyeing as much as US$100 billion worth of energy deals in near future and Iranian abundant oil and gas reserves could find thriving demand in China as well.

The benefits of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor for Pakistan have already started showing. This economic corridor will provide Pakistan with the perfect opportunity to stabilize itself economically while cultivating ties with Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan in particular and rest of the Central Asian States in general. Proudly elaborating that the world’s largest explosives manufacturer, Beijing Auxin Chemical Technology Limited, is all set to establish a plant in Pakistan. This Company will manufacture emulsion explosives which will meet the future demand of explosives and blasting accessories in the light of CPEC, large-scale mining and hydroelectric projects. Energy production being the current core concern of development Pakistan is expected to take a major leap forward. The Thar coal projects have been lined up as priority projects and part of CPEC which in combination with two other harvest projects will be able to generate up to 2400 megawatts of power current year of 2018. An agreement for the Lahore Orange Line Metro Project is also completed earlier this April. This multi-million dollar deal marks the first urban rail transit project in Pakistan under the One Belt, One Road Chinese framework. Apart from the obvious benefits to Pakistan’s power production, logistics, transportation, communication and freight handling industries, CPEC will also immensely benefit the country’s real estate running along the trade corridor.

With all this development going on, China, Pakistan, Iran and Central Asia are looking up and huge affinities in inter regional trade could be just around the corner. Iran’s decision to join China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would not only usher in an era of improved standard living across the Iranian and Pakistani Baluchistan region by facilitating trade among China, Iran and Pakistan but provide a cost-effective gateway to the Gulf region for other Asian country like Russia also.


CPEC: charting a shared future

The two-day CPEC Projects Summit held in Karachi was an incredible opportunity to showcase the true potential of a project that is so central to Pakistan’s future. The coming together of all stakeholders such as the federating units, academia, policy practitioners, foreign policy experts, and economists reiterated a broad consensus across Pakistan’s national opinions on CPEC being a game-changing project for the country.

During my address, I shared the experience and story of how Punjab has fared in the implementation of the CPEC projects; what challenges we faced and the benchmarks we set in making CPEC a reality.

CPEC and Gwadar

I also used the occasion to thank the Chinese government and people for their support to Pakistan via CPEC, especially President Xi Jinping, whose vision of the Belt and Road Initiative has brought about a new era of connectivity and corridors, connecting continents, countries and cultures.

The last six months have been very important for China, as the 19thCongress of the CPC, as well as the two recent sessions held last month in Beijing have strengthened the Xi Jinping Thought as the way forward for China’s progress and its role in the world.

While CPEC is the most significant developmental initiative in the history of Pakistan, I took the opportunity to tell the gathering, given the propaganda and misconceptions, what CPEC is not.

CPEC is not about one province, one party or one government. As the name denotes, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is about the whole of Pakistan, from Gwadar to Gilgit. CPEC is also not just about electricity, or energy, or highways, or other brick and mortar projects. It is about the transformation of Pakistan into a leading emerging economy, and it is also about all-round inclusive development in a transparent manner so that the less developed areas of Pakistan are able to reap the benefits of development.

CPEC is not about China and Pakistan alone, but CPEC is about connecting the region through economy and energy, ports and pipelines, roads and railways, with Pakistan as the hub of this emerging regionalism.

CPEC success proof of Pakistan-China friendship

The spirit of CPEC lies in strong, unwavering and robust people-to-people bond between our two brotherly countries. The welfare of the people remains the driving spirit behind this mammoth development package, ever announced in the history of the world that seeks to transform lives and build a bright future for the people of Pakistan.

Ever since assuming office in my second term, I have paid several visits to China. Each visit has been an amazing lesson in how China fought heavy odds to rise as the second global economic powerhouse and military power. I have been particularly struck by the warmth and hospitality of the people of China and the commitment of the Chinese leadership and the CPEC towards Pakistan and its peace, stability and socio-economic progress.

In order to smoothen the people-to-people bond and overcome the barrier of language, the Punjab government launched a multi-million-dollar Chinese scholarship programme whereby 500 students have been sent to China to study the Chinese language. The students will serve as a bridge between the peoples of our two countries.

We are also offering Chinese language courses here in the educational institutions in Punjab. Besides, a number of Centres of Excellence on Chinese Studies have been set up in universities here.

Questions are often asked as to what has CPEC achieved so far, how is it changing lives for the better and how is it transforming Pakistan? Let me cite a few examples:

• CPEC has revived dead projects like Thar Coal, which had been talked about for the last quarter of a century, but nothing was there on the ground. Today young Thari women are driving dumper trucks and bulldozers, while coal is being mined and electricity generated through this indigenous coal production.

• Gwadar Port, which was a dream 25 years ago, today is a living reality, a bustling port, the centrepiece of CPEC Projects, which lifted a million tonnes of cargo last year.

• The western route of CPEC today directly connects Quetta with Gwadar by a modern highway, with only 8 hours driving time.

• The Port Qasim power project in Sindh, and the Sahiwal power project in Punjab, both of which have been inaugurated, will help to resolve Pakistan’s decades-old energy crisis.

• The Orange Train will mark Lahore’s entry into the twenty-first century through a modern, efficient, state-of-the-art public transport system

• The Sukhi Kinari project is an important element in the resolution of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa energy crisis.

• The Karakoram Highway’s expansion and modernisation, connecting Pakistan through land route with China, is a highway of hope, a highway of progress, a highway of prosperity.

A vivid demonstration of the national consensus on CPEC Projects was the fact that during the first BRI Summit in Beijing in May 2017, all the chief ministers of the four provinces were part of the Pakistan’s delegation, led by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, in a forceful demonstration of unity of purpose on CPEC. During this visit, I visited the headquarters of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in Beijing along with Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah and met the NDRC vice-chairman. As a result of our meeting, the financing for Karachi Circular Mass Transit Project was approved.

We in Punjab have also made our own contribution to making CPEC Projects a success, and I am grateful to our Chinese friends who have been so kind as to label some of our successes as the “Punjab Speed”.

But actually, this is a tribute to the creativity, hard work and resilience of the people of Pakistan, irrespective of whether they are in Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir or Fata.

This only goes to show that if you have the right vision, and if you can muster up the will to pursue that vision with continuity, plus a “Can Do” approach, everything is doable and achievable.

In this regard, I am reminded of the famous saying of Chairman Mao, which says: “Nothing is hard in this world, if you dare to scale the heights!” Our friendship, our strategic partnership, has been forged into a camaraderie between Pakistan and China, which President Xi Jinping rightly terms, is a bond between “Iron Brothers”.

In building the CPEC Projects, we will Inshallah scale the heights of poverty, unemployment, energy shortages, and build a better tomorrow, not just for the people of Pakistan but for the region as a whole. In this quest for a better tomorrow, Pakistan and China will march forward hand in hand, to bring about a transformation that will benefit all our people.



CPEC is not a new East India Company

Islamabad: Federal Minister of Interior and Planning, Development & Reforms Ahsan Iqbal has said that only continuity of policies, political stability, peace and unity in our ranks can promise successful, brighter and prosperous future of Pakistan (SDPI).

The minister was addressing the inaugural session of Special Seminar on ‘Five years of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — a story of success and opportunities,’ organised here by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with Planning Commission and Chinese Embassy.

Ahsan Iqbal said that the spirit of the CPEC is shared destiny and shared prosperity adding that unless we preserve continuity, stability and peace we may not be able to gain the dividends of the CPEC. Ahsan Iqbal claims that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is one of the biggest success stories that we have had in our whole history and it has become a biggest global brand of Pakistan that has grabbed the attention of the world leaders and every big economy of the world is now searching its shared future in CPEC. Ahsan Iqbal has also stated that innovation, technology and competitiveness are the new pillars of the economy to achieve growth and prosperity but recent political uncertainty in Baluchistan and Southern Punjab has pushed Pakistan’s development and prosperity on the back burner. He said the destiny is in our hands, either we want to see rising Pakistan or follow the path of destruction as we lost many chances in the past and CPEC provided the last opportunity to rise.

Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan said that five years of construction, development and achievements is though very short time for the development of relationship between the two economies, but we are moving toward long lasting relationship. CPEC symbolises the strong cooperation and a new demonstration of relationship between Pakistan and China that is contributing to the new heights of state to state relationship of mutual respect. He said that by implementing CPEC projects, China wants to enhance cooperation and looking further opportunities in Pakistan.

Li Jihan Zaho, Deputy Head of Chinese mission, said that saying that CPEC is another East India Company is ridiculous and joke of the century. He urged the international investors to invest in Pakistan’s emerging economy.

Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, said that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is about creating a shared future in the fractured world and CPEC is one of its great successes. He observed that the success of CPEC as a transformational investment is critical for both China and Pakistan to demonstrate their ability to steer this region towards a shared prosperity.

Dr Suleri said political volatility, capacity, coordination, institutional trust, knowledge gaps, financing and flexibility in our policies are major challenges that may hinder the progress of CPEC. He said we are living in an era of economic diplomacy where we should collaborate rather compete.



All trade with China suspended at Sost Port as traders protest new custom rules

ISLAMABAD: Importers and exporters in Pakistan have suspended all kinds of trade with China via the land route at Sost Port in protest against the introduction of new customs rules under which transactions and clearances are done through a computerized system.

“The online clearance and processing of shipments are being introduced in an area where internet is not available. How can exporters and importers ensure the compliance of the system being launched here when the area is deprived of internet facility,” said the leaders of Gilgit Baltistan chambers of commerce while announcing suspension to trade with China from Wednesday (today).

According to them, the customs officials are introducing an online clearing system, WEBOC, at the Sost border despite the fact that the area lacks internet facility. Besides, importers, exporters and traders are unaware of the new system.

The chambers of commerce of different districts, traders associations, custom clearances agents association and other trade bodies have jointly decided to suspend the trade for an indefinite time.

According to a leading importer, like other ports of the country, the custom officials are introducing the WEBOC system, an online webportal to file import/export GD for mandatory customs clearance required for processing of containers upon its arrival. This is a step towards making a paper-less environment and to minimise interaction between importers and exporters and customs officials. However, the issue of the absence of internet facility in the Khunjrab area of GB has been making the introduction of the online system very difficult.

Talking about another major reason to boycott the import and export in Gilgit Baltistan (GB), GB Chambers of Commerce President Nasir Ali Raki, said, taxation system in GB was unacceptable for the exporters and importers of the area. “If Gwadar can be declared as tax free zone under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), why not GB, which the gateway of the corridor? All trade bodies here have decided to keep the bilateral trade suspended until the area is treated in the same way Gwadar is being treated,” he said while talking to Pakistan Today.

He said as the people of the area have stood against imposition taxes and successfully forced the government to withdraw the unlawful taxes, another movement will be started in favor of declaring the area a tax free zone under CPEC. “We are consulting the political parties to make the move successful. We will not let any container to cross the border until the lawful demands of traders are met,” Raki said.

It may recall here that the Khunjerab Pass was reopened for trade and travel between Pakistan and China on April 1, after remaining closed for four months owing to snowfall. Under an agreement between Pakistan and China, the border is usually closed on Nov 30 and reopens on April 1 every year. The dry port will be made all weather keeping it opened for trade throughout the year once the commercial trade under CPEC starts on this route.

Soon after the reopening of the land route, local traders had complained about not being issued passes to start import and export activity by the local government for issuance of computerized passes. Officials at GB Government had claimed that a project had been launched to issue computerized border passes. “The format of border pass will be changed from manual to computerized till the end of May,” they said, adding they had already informed Chinese authorities and the foreign office about the development.


Pakistan to establish trade bond between South, Central Asia, China: Ahsan Iqbal

BEIJING: Interior, Planning, Development, and Reforms Minister, Ahsan Iqbal, has said that the completion of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would revolutionise trade ties between the Asian States by linking South, Central Asia, and China.
He expressed these view while at a meeting with China Railway Construction Corporation’s Chairman Meng Fengchao in Beijing on Wednesday.
Both sides reviewed the progress on CPEC infrastructure projects including the up gradation of Pakistan Railway’s ML-1 project. On the occasion, Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that linking Gwadar with the rest of the country and the establishment of rail links from Quetta to Peshawar are prioritised projects. Infrastructure projects would transform these remote areas into new urban centres, ensuring inclusive growth across Pakistan, he added.
Ahsan Iqbal stressed on China Railway to ensure participation of Pakistani institutions in infrastructure projects. “China Railway Corporation should utilise the existing industrial base and local production capabilities in railways and infrastructure projects” maintained Ahsan Iqbal.
China Railway Construction Corporation guaranteed to work in collaboration with Pakistani institutions and organisations. It was assured that Pakistani engineers would be given priority at every stage of the projects. It was highlighted that the Chinese side would work in line with Vision 2025 and the CPEC Long Term Plan.
Pakistan and China have agreed to upgrade and dualise Pakistan Railway’s main line (ML-1) from Karachi to Torkham which would support to run fast-moving trains in the future. The first phase of the project is expected to hit the ground this year. The up gradation of the ML1 would not only improve existing railway infrastructure but would double current speed, facilitating huge cargo transportation.
Earlier, addressing the CEO’s Forum at Boao Forum in China, Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal on Monday said that CPEC is proving to be the oxygen for Pakistan as the country’s economic growth increased due to the huge investment being made in infrastructure and energy sector under the mega project. He said that there is broad consensus among all groups and political parties in the country to ensure the success of CPEC. He said under CPEC, nine industrial zones were being constructed across the country which will create numerous new jobs.

PM lauded for suspending FTA talks with China

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Wednesday lauded the decision of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to suspend the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with China.

The decision is praiseworthy as national interests were kept supreme in it on any other consideration, it said. The local business community has also informed the government well before the talks on the second round of FTA that further relaxations to the friendly country will damage the local industry beyond repair.

The Chinese side had refused to give any relaxation to Pakistan which was not expected by our officials, he said, adding that after suspension of talks the Chinese side has shown some flexibility which is good.

Murtaza Mughal said that Pakistan and China signed an FTA on Nov 24, 2006, which boosted Pakistani exports to China from $575 million to $2.6 billion while it increased Chinese exports to Pakistan from $3.5 billion to $14 billion resulting in a large deficit.

The losses in trade with China continue to increase by the passage of every year which Pakistani exports continue to slide as China has given more relaxations to other countries.

India and Vietnam have replaced Pakistani products in the Chinese market because Pakistan’s interests were not preferred by the Chinese authorities.

He said under-invoicing by the Chinese exporters has also become a threat to the Pakistani economy which should be tackled.


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CPEC — challenges and solutions

Gilgit-Baltistan G-B is home to over 50 mountain peaks above 7,000 metres and three of the world’s largest glaciers that are also the greatest pure water storage assets for Pakistan. According to estimates by G-B’s Water and Power Department, around 45,000MW of hydropower can be produced through utilisation of these water resources. Yet due to the altitudinal factors, G-B has a mountain ecosystem vulnerable to climate change and one likely to be affected by the industrial and business developments in future.

Gilgit-Baltistan G-B has been in the spotlight following CPEC’s initiation. A project of scale as huge as CPEC is pivotal to the economic and social development of the populace of the region, generating more of income avenues, investment options and opportunities of capital utilisation. While simultaneously providing more prospects for cultural exchange, interaction and diversification. Nevertheless it has an unavoidable cost attached to it.

Massive industrial development along the routes starting from Kashgar in Xinjiang, China, to Abbottabad in K-P, Pakistan, will damage the ecological system and the scenic beauty of the region. The biggest threat will be of the traffic emissions moving through this route.

With CPEC, demand for petroleum products set to grow

According to a research study, a single 22-wheeler truck vehicle produces 931g of carbon dioxide per km. From Khunjarab Pass to the Bhasha Dam site, a 427km-long northern and southern boundaries of G-B, stretching on the Karakoram Highway, a single truck will emit 396.6kgs of carbon dioxide. CO2 emission will be heavier, 2913.1kgs, in one trip from Kashgar to Gwadar. With current capacity of KKH, for less than 1,000 trucks per day from China to Pakistan, with the expected maturity of road routes, by around 2035, it is projected that about 12,000 trucks will enter and leave Pakistan, making a total of 24,000 trucks running through the route per day.

Currently, about 2,000 trucks running on both sides emit 793.2 tons in and a total of 5,826.2 tons of CO2 from cargo vehicles per day. In future 9,508.8 tons of CO2 will be emitted per day in Gilgit-Baltistan G-B territory and a total of 69,914.4 tons of CO2 will be emitted into the atmosphere along the entire route in a single day.

In general, CO2 is a heavy gas that does not move upwards into the atmosphere and with high mountains in surroundings remains trapped in between, this will be apocalyptic to the region’s ecosystem. The high volume of the greenhouse CO2 trapped in mountains will significantly increase atmospheric temperature causing a heavy melting of glaciers. For a water-stressed country like Pakistan, this will initially cause floods and then alarmingly severe water shortage.

High concentration of pollutants in atmosphere will drastically deteriorate the air quality in the area and substantially increase the level of air pollution.

Scientific research and advanced technologies provide solutions to threats like global warming and environmental degradation. One such solution to have eco-friendly energy sources for transportation is hydrogen. Hydrogen, an energy carrier, can be used as fuel in vehicles, as most beneficially it emits water vapour but no harmful gases. Moreover, due to greater energy density than conventional fossil fuels efficiency of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles is significantly higher than that of conventional vehicles.

Key to CPEC success

Germany is currently leading in hydrogen technology and plans to make hydrogen accessible in all its big cities by 2020. In G-B’s case, hydrogen can be produced here by local hydropower resources with a zero carbon footprint. the G-B government needs to be proactive in decision-making, planning and strategising for future while collaborating with market leaders in this technology. As CPEC infrastructure is developed in stages and will take at least 10 to 15 years to complete and run on its optimal targets, a proactive initiative in this regard is vital to protect the environment.

As China is investing in development of environmentally-sustainable technologies, agreements with its government can be made to make CPEC an emission-free route.



IMF director discusses CPEC’s impact on Pakistan’s economy

BEIJING: The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Director, Jihad Azour called on the Minister for Interior and Planning, Development and Reform, Ahsan Iqbal, on Thursday and discussed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and its impact on the development of Pakistan and the region.

During a meeting held on the sidelines of a high-level conference on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) here, Iqbal highlighted that through CPEC the government of Pakistan has been able to address the critical bottlenecks of energy and infrastructure in our growth and last year Pakistan had a GDP growth of 5.3 per cent and in 2018 the projections are for 5.8 per cent.

The government has made heavy investments in the energy sector to jump start the growth in the economy. CPEC projects have created thousands of jobs and revived construction and power sector industries.

Pakistan wants strong partnerships with multilateral institutions to build regional connectivity projects as regional connectivity holds the key to regional peace and prosperity.

Pakistan has a youth bulge, therefore the government is equally investing in the areas human resource development and technology.

Jihad acknowledged the efforts of the government for promoting education, infrastructure improvement and poverty alleviation. He highlighted the need to jointly work on the areas for capacity enhancement of local human resource under the BRI initiative.

Ahsan Iqbal highlighted the need to promote business to business cooperation under BRI and overcoming knowledge gaps about the Chinese industry, trade and financial systems by all stakeholders.



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Investors to get hefty incentives for industries in Special Economic Zones

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani and Chinese investors, preparing to set up industry in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) will get significant incentives including exemption from duties and taxes, concessional loans, land on instalments and the facility of one window operation to help them in dealing with federal and provincial departments.

According to an official document of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Secretariat, the Pakistani government has provided a policy package to attract potential investors including Chinese enterprises.

The incentive package includes one-time exemption from all customs duties and taxes on plant and machinery imported into Pakistan for installation in Special Economic Zones.

The investors will get an exemption from all taxes on income accruable in relation to the development and operation of the SEZs for a period of five years and an exemption from all taxes on income for enterprises commencing commercial production by June 30, 2020, in the SEZs for the next ten years.

Pakistan and Chinese governments in their 7th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting held in November last year decided to establish nine special economic zones in different regions.

The list of priority Special Economic Zones (SEZs) include: SEZ in Rashakai, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, SEZ Dhabeji Sindh, Bostan Industrial Zone in Balochistan, Allama Iqbal Industrial City (M3), Faisalabad in Punjab, SEZ Maqpoondas in Gilgit Baltistan, ICT Model SEZ in Islamabad, Port Qasim SEZ on Pakistan Steel land in Sindh, Mohmand Marble City in FATA and SEZ in Mirpur in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan will provide gas, electricity, water and other supporting facilities and working shelters in the industrial parks, set up under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

The package includes the provision of plots on instalments (50 per cent down payment and remaining 50 per cent in four biannual instalments).

The investors will also get the markup support at the rate of 50 per cent of the markup to a maximum of 5 per cent on the loans taken in Pakistani currency for financing the project. The support is to be provided by the respective governments for the zones in their jurisdiction. Freight subsidy of 50 per cent will be provided on the inland transportation of plant and machinery for installation in any of the priority SEZ.

Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) will put in place a one window operation and the respective provincial governments will delegate authority for implementing labour, environment and other laws and for the collection of local and provincial taxes or will depute representatives of the departments in SEZA office. The federal government departments including utility companies, Federal Board of Revenue and Securities and Exchange Commission will depute representatives to perform similar functions in the zone.

The developer shall also be allowed to purchase gas, electricity, and other utilities from utility providers in bulk and supply the same to the enterprises at rates that are duly notified by SEZA in consultation with the stakeholders.

The developer would also be allowed to rent out sheds for industrial use. To encourage upscaling of the industry so that it can become part of global supply chain, certain guidelines have been prepared by the government, to give a thrust to the industrialization process.