Beijing, 22 February 2023 (TDI): Coordinator to Prime Minster of Pakistan on Commerce and Industry, Rana Ihsan Afzal khan, took part in an interview with China Economic Net (CEN).
During the interview, he said that as a megaproject with a total investment of $65 billion by 2022, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has laid a solid foundation for Pakistan’s socioeconomic development.
Rana praised the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) under CPEC and stated that it is an initiative of connectivity of not only infrastructure but of economy, trade, and people-to-people.
Citing an example of BRI, Rana said, “It used to take almost 24 hours to travel from Islamabad to Gilgit Baltistan. The travel time was reduced in half as soon as the CPEC began.”
“In the past five years, CPEC has improved connectivity within Pakistan and helped us control load-shedding across the country. Pakistan is looking forward for it to be mature and reaching its true potential.” He reiterated.
Talking about the challenges faced in the construction of the CPEC project, Rana highlighted, “If the planning is not properly done as expected, it cannot be blamed on others; we have to look at ourselves.”
The Coordinator also noted the current economic situation of Pakistan. In this vein, he said, “Currently the biggest problem Pakistan is facing is our foreign reserves have fallen to a very low level. The reason behind it is basically that Pakistan has faced a huge trade deficit.”
“To reduce the trade and current account deficits, we have to increase our exports. We are looking up to the Chinese market, which can import $2.5 to $3 trillion worth of goods each year.” Rana continued.
He disclosed that the government has already assigned the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Industries and Production to look into where Pakistan has a comparative advantage in terms of exports to China.
Rana stressed that there is a huge potential in Pakistan-China relations. Both can utilize the young population in areas where there is more requirement for human resources or labor-intensive industries.
In the end, the Coordinator to Prime Minister concluded that steps should be taken to utilize the route from Gwadar Port, which links the maritime Silk Road, to Gilgit. It will prove beneficial and enhance trade under the BRI umbrella.
CPEC & initiatives taken in Pakistan
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a flagship project of the President of China, Xi Jinping’s vision of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The pilot project is the epitome of bolstered bilateral partnership between China and Pakistan that has been tested by times of difficulty and forged by mutual trust.
Five transport projects under the CPEC have been completed until now in Pakistan. Among them, three are motorway projects, including KKH Phase II, Multan-Sukkur Motorway (M5), and Hakla- D.I Khan Motorway.
Moreover, the Orange Line Metro train and the Cross Border Optical Fiber Cable lay the foundation for the modernization of Pakistan’s transport system.