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Mega CPEC –a battle of economic supremacy on the horizon

Mega CPEC –a battle of economic supremacy on the horizon

Interview with Sardar Shoukat Popalzai – President, Balochistan Economic Forum

[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Profile:

Sardar Shoukat Popalzai, President Balochistan Economic Forum, gained his degree in International Relations with major on diplomacy, economics and anti terrorism before spending nearly 24 years on professional career in the field of information service on International Diplomacy – Corporate Information and Media Monitoring. Over the years he has made presentations at numerous important conferences and corporate briefings. He is also recipient of awards from USA, Great Britain, France, the People’s Republic of China and the Federal Republic of Germany.[/box]

PAKISTAN & GULF ECONOMIST had an exclusive conversation with Sardar Shoukat Popalzai about CPEC. Excerpts of the conversation are as follows:

CPEC – Regional integrator with greater opportunity provider for the underdeveloped provinces of Pakistan precisely Balochistan.

The Construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is an overall cooperation framework set up by China and Pakistan with a focus on the long-term development of bilateral cooperation in various fields. China is willing to join hands with Pakistan to move forward the building of the Corridor in a balanced and comprehensive way, deepen the all-weather friendship and all-round cooperation between the two countries and forge a China-Pakistan community of common destiny.

The CPEC involves the construction of highways, railways and energy pipelines connecting western China with Pakistan and the Persian Gulf, thus, enable China to cut the time and distance. A new project will give Pakistan the tools of globalization.

The Sino-Pak economic corridor will strengthen economic links across the region. Nevertheless, the corridor will play a crucial role in advancing Pakistan’s economic power, exporting, transiting, and transporting goods into and out of Central Asia and carrying them away on the current of the world’s sea lanes.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has taken centre stage in Pakistan’s economic landscape and is being described by nearly everyone as a game-changer. The country is becoming increasingly attractive for investors and economic partners, with everyone seeking a windfall from the changing dynamic.

With a population of around 1.4 billion, China has recently become the second largest economy in the world and is increasingly playing an important and influential role in shaping the global economy.

With its rapid economic and social development and GDP growth averaging nearly 10 per cent a year, China has lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty and reached all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Many developing countries eye China’s rapid transformation, from a sluggish centrally-planned economy to a vibrant market-based economy, with some envy. And Pakistan is in the process of riding the wave of China’s success.

The vision of CPEC is to improve socio-economic conditions of our people and to enhance connectivity. It includes:

Balochistan opportunities

The CPEC is a star project. Its energy and infrastructure development programmes under Belt & Road imitative are going to be a game changer in the region and a pillar for much needed economic growth in Pakistan.

It is certain that Pakistan has put all developmental eggs in the CPEC basket.

While, CPEC will offer an economic boost to the underdeveloped province of Balochistan, and much needed infrastructure to capitalise its resources for improved economic growth and regional connectivity; railways, airport, roads and ports will aid the Free Trade Zone at Gwadar, linking it to Kashgar in China.

Development in Balochistan province will shape the national economic agenda as Balochistan has 16 CPEC projects and recently 12 new projects were also included.

One would never come across many people who oppose development and mega projects in Balochistan. Their only concern has been whether these projects are really going to improve the socio-economic conditions under which the people of Balochistan live.

It’s necessary to gain the confidence of the people of Balochistan by publicly sharing details of all the CPEC projects as a majority of the people living outside Balochistan are ill-informed about the situation in the province, especially since many issues are not discussed in the media.

CPEC Jewel – Gwadar

Gwadar is located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, close to the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, through which more than 13 million bbl/d of oil passes. It is strategically located between three increasingly important regions of the world: the oil-rich Middle East, heavily populated South Asia and the economically emerging and resource-rich Central Asia. The Gwadar Port would pave the way to generate billions of dollars in foreign investments in the state-of-art port city of South Asia.

Win-Win situation

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will not only enhance the strategic cooperation between Beijing and Islamabad, but also open up new avenues of economic development for the people of Balochistan. Gwadar will be connected with main cities to expose the full potential of Balochistan. According to statistics from the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, Balochistan is estimated to receive $7.1 billion initial investments through the CPEC, ranking second in its share from the total of $50 billion. The CPEC will connect Pakistan to Central Asia via the Eurasian Land Bridge planned under China’s “Belt & Road” Initiative. The Pakistani government plans to hook up the country with Central Asia via Termiz (Uzbekistan), making Balochistan the central point of economic activities in the region. Balochistan, in general, and Gwadar, in particular, will hopefully become the linchpin of the CPEC. Significantly rich in mineral resources, Balochistan can contribute to regional economic integration and, in turn, benefit from this economic opportunity greatly.

Regional advantages
Regional strategic energy corridor

There are three major pipeline projects on the books. The merging point of all these three pipelines will create opportunities for the province of Balochistan particularly downstream industries, such as oil refinery, fertilizer plants, petrochemical, etc.

Scope of the people’s republic of China — assistance for the province of Balochistan

There is a vast scope to improve further economic relations of The People’s Republic of China and Pakistan with reference to the province of Balochistan:

Challenges& opportunities

The Balochistan Economic Forum, since its inception has been striving to promote the economics of the largest province of Pakistan, to achieve these goals, have organized numerous International conferences on various economic related topics, including executive & corporate briefings, diplomatic exploratory missions, outward & inward foreign investment delegations.

The Balochistan Economic Forum also promotes and supports investment through Balochistan business houses, contributing to job creation and competitiveness; through ‘International Business & Investment Promotion Initiative’ to reach International markets to improve conditions that directly affect the private sector’s ability to improve ways to explore prospective business opportunities in the province of Balochistan.

The Balochistan Economic Forum strongly supports the Belt and Road initiative-BRI of the People’s Republic of China and China Pakistan Economic Corridor-CPEC.

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