SEZs enrichment and development of CPEC

Cheng Xizhong – China Economic Net

Beijing: Recently, three new Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are formally approved by the Board of Approvals (BOA), headed by the Pakistani Prime Minister, taking the total number to 20.
According to an official announcement of the PM Office, the three SEZs are National Science & Technology Park, Islamabad, JW-SEZ China-Pakistan SEZ in Punjab, and Dhabeji SEZ in Sindh.
PM Imran Khan claimed that the country has entered the industrialization phase and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will help boost the industrial sector.

I remember that in March 2020, the Pakistani government approved ten SEZs in four provinces, including five in Punjab, two each in Sindh and Balochistan and one in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. After half a year, the number of SEZs in Pakistan has increased to 20, which shows that the federal government of Pakistan attaches great importance to the development of SEZs, and that local governments at all levels all are striving for the construction of SEZs.

As Prime Minister Imran Khan said, speeding up the construction of SEZs can promote Pakistan’s industrialization and modernization. My analysis is that SEZs construction has at least the following functions.
Firstly, it will enhance the production and export capacity of industrial products. Secondly, it will introduce foreign capital, advanced technology and management experience. Thirdly, it will create a large number of employment opportunities. Fourthly, it will accelerate the economic development of specific regions and form a new industrial structure and social-economic structure, which will drive the economic development of the whole country.

During the four decades of reform and opening up, China has accumulated a lot of successful experience in the construction of SEZs. I think there are three main points in China-Pak cooperation in this regard.
First of all, China may unreservedly share its experience with Pakistan on SEZ development.
Pakistan may introduce capital, advanced technology and management experience from China.
Chinese industrial enterprises should invest in Pakistan’s SEZs and cooperate with Pakistani partners to help improve its production and export capacity of industrial products.

As the development of Pakistan’s SEZs is just in the start-up step, it is naturally to encounter various difficulties.
I feel the most important thing is that we should resist the temptation to overreach. It is understandable that governments at all levels in Pakistan wish to develop SEZs, but it is not conducive to concentrating financial resources on major ones.
What is urgently needed is to build two or three SEZs first, and then put them into operation immediately, so as to produce economic benefits and demonstration effects.

To realize industrialization and modernization is the only way for Pakistan to eliminate poverty, enhance its position of strength and safeguard its national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Therefore, I have repeatedly stressed the importance of industrialization and modernization in Pakistan. China’s efforts to help Pakistan build the CPEC and SEZs are all aimed at helping Pakistan realize industrialization and modernization. The construction of SEZs is the enrichment and development of the CPEC.