Lt. Gen (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa, Chairman CPEC Authority, has said that the second phase of CPEC is all about receiving the dividends for the people of Pakistan.
He said that unprecedented socio-economic development in Gwadar and other parts of Balochistan have been initiated with a focus on ensuring the participation of local people in the development projects.
He said this while chairing a special dialogue “Gwadar Port, free economic zone’s role in the prosperity of Balochistan & regional connectivity” organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Friday.
Dispelling the impression of the project slowing down, Gen. Bajwa said that it’s picking up momentum. He said that good news for the industry is that the agreement on establishing Rashakai Special Economic Zone would be signed in the third week of August.
He added that Gwadar port as well as Gwadar airport have become fully functional and Afghan Transit Trade has started diverting towards Gwadar.
The National Development Council, during its recent meeting, has decided to focus on the development of Balochistan. The Gwadar District Economic Zone is being developed in addition to the Gwadar City.
Vocational training is being provided to enable the local population to participate in and benefit from the development projects.
Yao Jing, Ambassador of the People Republic of China to Pakistan, said that Gwadar has huge potential for the development and regional connectivity. He said that the government of Pakistan and all concerned authorities including the CPEC Authority have played a vital role in moving the project forward.
Therefore, several economic initiatives have already been taken by the Chinese government as well as Chinese companies with the help of local partners.
Gwadar is not just a port but a comprehensive business project and thanks to tax incentives announced by the Government of Pakistan, the area now offers a lot of potential for the trade and investment. He said that the Chinese government is committed to providing all the resources that may be required for the future development needs of Gwadar. China wants to expand its cooperation for the development of whole Balochistan and cooperation in agricultural development is being worked upon including testing cotton seed in Balochistan, he said.
Director General (China) at Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), M Muddasir Tipu, highlighted the potential of cooperation between China and Pakistan in various sectors of the economy and said that fishery and meat packaging areas need special focus. The transit trade that has started from Gwadar is a huge milestone for future economic activities and connectivity in the region.
Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director SDPI, underpinned the significance of enhancing cooperation in the field of agriculture and food security, saying that it was the agricultural sector that has been instrumental in ensuring food security in Pakistan during the pandemic.
“Developing Special Economic Zones for agriculture under CPEC would play a key role in linking Pakistani Agri-based commodities to get linked with Chinese food value chain,” Dr. Suleri said and added that corporate agriculture farming is another area that needs to be explored under mutual cooperation in order to ensure livelihood as well as food security in Pakistan.
Mr. Zhang Baozhong, Chairman COPHC, was of the view that Gwadar port is ushering an era of economic development in the region. Mr. Zahid Latif Khan, Chairman ISE (R) and Mr. Shakeel Ahmed Ramay, Director Asia Study Centre, SDPI, also shared their views while highlighting diverse aspects of Gwadar port’s contribution to regional connectivity.