The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the most important and best-performing project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which promotes infrastructure and the interconnection of continents, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said on April 3.
The multibillion-dollar CPEC project has provided jobs to 70,000 Pakistanis over the last five years and will generate 700,000 more employment opportunities in the future, he told the Breakfast with Jang program at a hotel in Islamabad.
Yao said that under the corridor project, the development of four sectors of the economy as well as Gwadar, a port city in southwestern Pakistan, are in full swing. He said that among Gwadar development plans are the establishment of an economic zone and food processing zone, construction of a power plant, installation of a water plant, and development of a vocational training institute.
More than 20 Chinese companies will invest in Gwadar’s free economic zone, he said, and all companies are fulfilling their corporate social responsibility in the CPEC project zones.
The CPEC promises energy production, infrastructure development, highway construction, railway network expansion, and the development of special economic zones in Pakistan.
“The CPEC will give Pakistan more than 20 special economic zones,” Yao said, adding that the working group has already visited the sites of these zones.
The CPEC project is overseen by the Sino-Pak Joint Coordination Committee, which has so far met seven times. It aims to benefit both China and Pakistan and not only promotes economic development but also increases regional cooperation.
Yao said that dialogue is under way to revise the Sino-Pak free trade agreement to help end the trade imbalance. China is aware of Pakistani businesses’ reservations about the bilateral trade imbalance, and it is striving to address them.
“We’ve offered to end duty on 90 percent of Pakistani exports under the trade agreement to facilitate bilateral trade and give Pakistanis more and more incentives,” he said.
At an earlier occasion in Islamabad, the ambassador said that Pakistan should make the CPEC a part of its national strategy as it would contribute to its long-term economic growth as well as the development of the whole region.
Yao said China considers Pakistan a most reliable friend and wants to see it develop economically, because a strong Pakistan is good for China and for the region.
China believes that the CPEC will put Pakistan “on the path of industrialization, jobs creation and regional connectivity”, he said, adding that the project will also help Pakistan overcome energy problems and improve its economic growth through the construction of a road and railway network.
Yao said China encourages Pakistan’s private sector to capitalize on the CPEC for growth and expansion. He added that Pakistan’s business communities should receive benefits from the special economic zones and develop mutually beneficial joint ventures with Chinese counterparts.
The special economic zones under the CPEC project will increase local exports.
The Chinese government encourages and supports the country’s companies in fulfilling their social responsibility to benefit the people, while support and cooperation from the local population is required.
Moreover, the CPEC is not meant only for China and Pakistan as it can benefit the entire region, Yao said.
The corridor project has already increased foreign investment in Pakistan, helped increase the country’s economic growth rate to the highest level in the last decade, and has spurred massive employment opportunities.
The ambassador said China’s Belt and Road Initiative was created to bring about prosperity through economic development and thus improve people’s lives.
The News International.