The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a flagship project of regional connectivity and economic partnership, derived from China’s transnational initiative of One Belt One Road (OBOR). It promises shared prosperity through greater infrastructural interconnection and trade linkages between Pakistan and China and beyond through a 3218 km stretch of network comprising of roads, rail, fiber optic, energy pipelines, industrial clusters and Special Economic Zones (SEZs). It also involves projects for agricultural development and poverty alleviation, tourism cooperation and people-to-people communication, financial cooperation and human resource development. Cumulatively, China will invest more than US $ 46 billion in these projects.
CPEC aims to transform Pakistan into a geo-economic hub as it will not only connect Kashgar region in China with Gwadar region in Pakistan but will also augment the inter-regional trade potential by providing linkages between China, Central Asia, South Asia, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and Middle East. Billions of people inhabiting these parts of the world will benefit from the socio-economic development engendered by CPEC.
The CPEC was formally launched by China and Pakistan in 2013 with a systematic time-frame for completion by 2030. Its prioritized or early harvest projects, which mainly include modernization of Gwadar deep sea Port and energy sector projects with a total capacity of 10,400 MW, are scheduled to be completed by 2018 to 2020. By now, the CPEC has gradually entered into the state of full implementation from planning. Gwadar Port has already started functioning under CPEC since November 2016 when first trade convoy docked at it after travelling all along from north to south in western part of Pakistan. Gwadar port provides a unique node of maritime connectivity to CPEC being the world’s largest natural, deep sea port.
The economic opportunities under CPEC are enormous. It promises cheaper routes for transportation of goods through land as well as maritime nodes of connectivity. Both countries are committed to building CPEC by completing its envisioned projects with high quality and on schedule so as to achieve win-win results and bring dividends to people in China and Pakistan as well as other countries in the region. The Chinese and other regional business companies can take advantage from key sectors of Pakistan’s economy like agriculture, textiles, minerals, gemstones, handicrafts, marble and stoneware, leatherwear, food processing, sports goods, pharmaceutical products and surgical instruments. It is a win-win proposition as the profit margin on doing business in Pakistan is high and the government offers liberal incentives for foreign investors.
In a nutshell, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a game changer for the region and beyond.