‘Pakistan’s economic conditions delay CPEC development’

Gwadar transformed into thriving modern city, says Chinese firm chairman

Our Correspondent August 22, 2023


China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) Chairman Yo Bo has emphasised that Pakistan’s economic circumstances were primarily responsible for delay in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)’s development.

In a meeting at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Yo shed light on the transformative progress of Gwadar under CPEC.

He underscored the significance of Gwadar, hailing it as CPEC’s pivotal axis. The first stage of Gwadar’s port and city development, along with the Gwadar Free Zone, has been completed.

His remarks outlined that Gwadar had been transformed from a modest village into a thriving modern city, replete with cutting-edge technology.

China has made substantial investment in Gwadar’s growth, spanning construction, airport infrastructure and healthcare facilities.

Read CPEC pivotal for marginalised areas

The Gwadar Free Zone, which came under the auspices of Free Zone Company in 2018, has already established its phase one, spanning 25 hectares adjacent to the port. This area has attracted six companies.

The North Free Zone, covering a large area of 900 hectares, has been designated for industrial and warehousing purposes, which will play its role in processing raw material for export.

Speaking about Balochistan’s economic disparity, Chairman Yo highlighted the untapped potential of the region, which was brimming with natural resources, but plagued by underdevelopment and negligible trade.

“Gwadar Port, however, is fully operational, equipped with facilities to manage imports and exports.”

The COPHC chairman outlined the Gwadar Port’s operational status, its cargo handling capacity and plans for the Gwadar International Airport’s full-scale operation.

He also spoke about the port’s role in facilitating barter trade with Iran, Afghanistan and Russia, as well as its strategic advantages.

The robust incentives extended to Chinese companies in free zones, coupled with the prospect of win-win partnerships for Pakistani and Chinese businesses, were a recurring theme.

An LCCI delegation was invited to Gwadar to come and explore opportunities of collaboration and investment, which highlighted China’s eagerness to foster joint ventures and establish industries, not just within Gwadar but also beyond its borders.

Read more CPEC playing critical role in economic, social uplift

Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Kashif Anwar announced that a business delegation would visit Gwadar soon. He hailed Gwadar’s role within CPEC to catalyse regional connectivity, benefiting not only China and Pakistan but also adjacent nations such as Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics.

He viewed CPEC as a cornerstone of Pakistan’s industrial and economic revitalisation.

Despite the strides taken since CPEC’s inception in 2015, Anwar acknowledged that much remained to be realised. The eight-year journey saw the construction of new infrastructure, from extensive road networks to power plants and free zones.

He underlined the need for fully unlocking CPEC’s economic potential, looking towards Chinese investors for guidance.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2023.

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