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CPEC: Gwadar emerging trade, energy transportation hub, to economize landlocked states

Saeed Ahmad

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project intends to build Pakistan’s most needed infrastructure and boost its economy by constructing modern transportation networks, setting up of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and numerous energy projects.

Geo-strategically, CPEC project is located between three key important landlocked regions of the globe including economically emerging and rich-resourced Central Asia, oil-rich Western Asia and thickly populated South Asia.

After globalization, digital technology is transforming the world into global-digital-village in the real sense of modern technology usage and regional integration is a key aspect of this information mechanism. If a comparison of Central and South Asia is made, the earlier is rich in oil and gas resources while the later is a region developing at a rapid pace, and its internal energy resources are insufficient. Therefore, the construction of physical-infrastructural linkages and increase in trade volume among the Asian regions including West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and Western China will be mutually beneficial. In this connection, Pakistan`s Gwadar deep sea-port has outshined with multi prospects to emerge as regional trade and energy transportation hub. Official sources reveal that the possible profit statistics in the head of toll collection, that if completed by 2030, the CPEC toll income would be three times the budget of Pakistan.

A document of United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) which maintains the Energy Statistics Database reveals that China’s annual crude oil imports from OPEC countries during 2019 increased to an average of 10.1 million barrels per day (b/d), which was an increase of 0.9 million b/d as compared to the 2018 average import.

China remains the world’s top crude oil importer, surpassing the United States in 2017.

China’s new refinery capacity and strategic inventory stockpiling, combined with flat domestic oil production, were the major factors contributing to the increase in China’s crude oil imports in 2019. According to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Annual Statistical Bulletin (ASB) estimates, 79.4% of the world’s proven oil reserves are located in OPEC member countries, with the bulk of OPEC oil reserves in the Middle East, amounting to 64.5% of the OPEC in total. It may be mentioned here that OPEC’s proven oil reserves currently stand at 1,189.80 billion barrels.

According to the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FPCCI) President, Mian Anjum Nisar, the setting up of economic zones and upgrading the industrial sector would bring industrial revolution in the country, adding these mega projects would be set up under the 2nd phase of CPEC. After becoming fully operational Gwadar Port would become a harbinger of massive export-import activity and a gateway to both the Persian Gulf and Central Asian countries. Mian Nisar said that the energy-transportation would engage the economic partnership of around 64 countries in Asia and Europe and the Middle East. CPEC is hope of the whole region as an advanced future while strengthening a modern economy based on peace and prosperity. He further said that the newly established Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ), under CPEC, would create employment opportunities for the local youth which would further contribute to the socio-economic development of all provinces including Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa.

Similarly, any item produced at Rashakai SEZ, being developed in a public-private partnership, would easily be exported to Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs) and adjoining regions due to its proximity to Torkham (Pak-Afghan) border.

Official sources say that a network of roads and highways under the aegis of the CPEC project was being constructed all over the country. Due to proximity and the accessible connectivity of the newly constructed roads linked with Gwadar would help reach the shipment in a minimum time with a shortest distance cover. The sources added that the shipment and all items from SEZs would be easily exported to their destinations. Therefore, this was a great milestone that has been achieved by both Federal and KPK governments.

To ensure its industrial production’s consumption China needs a small, secure, and low-cost path to trade with Europe, Middle East and Central Asia. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a feasible solution to meet international minimum time delivery marketing standards. And, of course, this project would be having a direct impact on the whole region’s economy, in terms of swift trade, transport-cost and travel time. President, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI) Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that post-Covid-19 situation has significantly affected the global economy and trade patterns, which has absolutely transformed the nature of global business by reshaping international economies. The European Union has long been exercising the command and control influence on global trade, by running and operating at a very large surplus volume. He noted that China as the world’s second largest leading economy was an increasingly relevant competitor of Europe and USA in third markets, particularly in Latin America


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