CPEC: The game has finally changed

ISLAMABAD: Three years on, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), described by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a “game-changer” for the entire region, has achieved full realization (in 2016) making a remarkable progress, says a report.

According to China’s state news agency Xinhua, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, Sun Weidong, has repeatedly reiterated the 16 early harvest projects, including several power stations, highways and projects related to Gwadar Port, are under construction and tens of thousands of new jobs have been created for the locals.

“The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is building a more amicable bond between our two brotherly countries. Our friendly cooperation is ushering in a golden era for greater development,” said Sun during the ceremony of installation of a new chandelier at Mazar-e-Quaid, or the Mausoleum of the Founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in Karachi on December 17.

Last month, a trade convoy organised by the two countries successfully passed through the western part of Pakistan for the first time from the north to the south, proving the connectivity of local roads and the realization of the concept of “one corridor with multiple passages” under the CPEC.

Meanwhile, Gwadar Port also marked its first export of massive containers to overseas destinations in November, showing the port’s designed handling capacity has been restored.

“Since the commencement of the CPEC, 2016 is the year when we have seen a project completed or start working. In addition to the Gwadar Port operations, Prime Minister Sharif also inaugurated a number of others projects in the country, especially in some routes in the western part of the CPEC. There are at least 39 projects, the majority of them related to energy, where obvious progress has been seen during 2016,” Saeed Chaudhry, director of the Islamabad Council for International Affairs, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

“Before the CPEC, Pakistan’s economy was feeble and stagnant, and investors, even the ones of Pakistan origin, were reluctant to invest in it, but right now the economic indicators of Pakistan have turned positive,” Chaudhry also pointed out adding, at the moment investors from around the world are flocking to Pakistan and the country’s economy has been given a new life.

He further said that Pakistan’s main issue is shortage of revenue and unemployment, but the CPEC will provide solutions for the both. The report added that in terms of the energy field, China is helping boost green, low-carbon and sustainable energy development to address power shortage in Pakistan.

Several wind power farms and hydropower stations are under construction and the eye-catching Port Qasim coal-fired power project in Karachi is expected to be completed ahead of schedule.

“We are not coming only for big projects, we are here to help countries, such as Pakistan, to plan and design their future energy development blueprints so as to address problems they are facing and to make the projects a reality,” Yan Zhiyong, chairman of the Power Construction Corporation of China, which is charged with the construction of the Port Qasim coal-fire power project, told Xinhua earlier.

According to Bilal Khan, a senior economist at Standard Chartered Bank Ltd, due to the enhanced infrastructure such as roads and railways brought by the CPEC, the gross domestic product (GDP) growth should increase from around 4.7 percent last year to around 6 percent by 2019, and stay around the same level for 2020 in the southern Asian country.

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