Ambassador of China to Pakistan Yao Jing on Wednesday said that special economic zones(SEZs) would be built in Pakistan in the next phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Speaking at a seminar on regional dialogue on ‘Role of Parliaments in Cementing Regional Integration,' he said China would now invest in building vocational and training centers as well as research in agriculture and livestock sectors.

“Most of the CPEC projects are investment of Chinese companies and these are not loans to the Pakistan government," he clarified. Jing said CPEC was launched because of the friendship between Pakistan and China, adding that China wants progress and development all across Pakistan. He said that China would succeed in eradicating poverty among its people in the next year.

Responding questions by parliamentarians and others, Jing said that China wants prosperity in Pakistan though CPEC which is a joint venture of both the countries. He said that CPEC cannot be judged at this stage as it is a long-term mega project. He said that China is effectively playing its due role in the multibillion dollars CPEC project and Pakistan should also make similar efforts to make it a reality.

Answering a question, he said that Chinese private companies are playing significant role in making investment in Pakistan, adding as many as 11 Chinese companies are active in Gwadar and others areas of Pakistan for development.

He said that these companies get loan from Chinese banks and pay back. He said, “We are paying attention to the development in social sector, vocational training, and health and education sectors." He said that China has opened 40 vocational centers across Pakistan.

Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser said that regional integration and connectivity of states in the region is imperative for tapping the immense economic potential.

He said that benefits of the CPEC could only be harvested with integration of the Central Asian with South Asia. He observed that modern global and regional politics revolves around geo-economics and in that context CPEC, a flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is presenting revolutionary opportunities for regional countries to build strong economic, trade and commercial ties.

He said that Pakistan is geographically located at the interface of south and central Asia and the Middle East, besides being a neighbor of China, and linking landlocked Central Asian States with the rest of the world through CPEC would open new vistas of economic cooperation. He said that the Central Asian countries are already connected by a deep historical and cultural affinity, geographical proximity, and a convergence of strategic and economic interests.

Qaiser said that economy of Pakistan badly suffered due to turmoil during the last three decades. He said that influx of refugees from Afghanistan and later war on terror rendered down the economy. He said that advent of CPEC is a game changer and the country is put in a win-win situation.

He said that Pakistan's strategic location would make it a regional hub of trade and commerce to other parts of the world. The speaker said that CPEC has ushered a new era of growth into Pakistan and made it an attractive destination for foreign direct investment.

He termed CPEC game changer not only for Pakistan but also for the whole region. He said the projects under CPEC are near to completion and would finally start contributing in the Pakistan economy. The Speaker was confident that job creation and addressing energy deficit are early benefits of the CPEC.

Referring to the instant dialogue, he said that Parliament would extend its fullest cooperation for realization of dream of achieving fullest potential of CPEC. Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Asad Umar said that there is a need of intra-regional trade for economic development and prosperity of people in the region.

He said the CPEC will be beneficial for both the countries and Pakistan did not hide anything from the world, adding Pakistan has obtained $ 4.9 billion loan under CPEC for infrastructure projects. He said, “We want to promote the economy by making CPEC a part of intra-regional trade."

He said that there is a need to increase the drivers of growth effectively. He said that for this purpose the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is focusing on young population and agriculture sector. He said that the boundaries of Pakistan are linked with two major countries – China and India. He said that there is need to resolve the issues of foreign and economic policies to promote intra-regional trade.

The minister said that the rulers of India are promoting extremism and imposing ban on freedom of its citizens. He said that on the other hand, America wants to isolate Iran. He said that there are many economic opportunities in Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019