As a crown jewel of China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI),China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) holds immense promise for regional integration as it could bring various economic opportunities at large for every country that will join the project. Taking into account the strategic and economic benefits of CPEC, it is equally important to both China and Pakistan. It can pave the way to promote regional and cross regional economic and trade integration among various neighboring countries to,China and Pakistan. It will provide China’s access to the Middle East and Africa via Pakistan’s western province-Balochistan. The Gwadar port will enable China to step into the Indian Ocean, moreover it will also provide Pakistan an opportunity to link with the Central Asian land locked states. In return,China will help Pakistan triumph overits energy crises alongside stabilising its depleting economy.
This very factor attracts other neighboring countries to join in and be part of the CPEC project. Recently in a statement,Pakistan’s information Minister Fawad Chaudhry stated that”Saudi Arabia will be joining CPEC as the third strategic partner’. This is surely an important achievement for Pakistan. Saudi Arabia’sinvestment in Pakistan will generate income for the national economy. It will bring in more business and further accelerate the economic development.
Saudi Arabia is among those countries who are interested keenly in becoming a part of CPEC. Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in CPEC will primarily provide a chance to relate its economy with China. This will eventually lead Saudi Arabia in targeting its 2030 vision which focuses on the Saudi plan to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism. Eventually CPEC will lessen Saudi Arabia’s dependency on its oil generated revenues thus providing alternate revenue generation options in energy sector and power plants. As Saudi Arabia has planned in its vision 2030 toutilise its strategic location for global economic activities thus CPEC is the best possible option. It will allow the Saudis to set a larger trade pattern and even better position in world trade traffic. Furthermore it will be advantageous for China as well. Every year China spends billions of dollars on importing oil to meet its oil consumption. Saudi Arabia as a party to CPEC will provide China with a better quality of crude oil for its imports as its economy is highly dependent on the trade activities.
Additionally,this CPEC triad(Pakistan-China-Saudi Arabia) is not only beneficial for economic integration, but will also help in mitigating Arab rivalries. Pakistan can play an important role to patch up the long-running cracks in Saudi Arabia-Iranian relations.In this regard Islamabad could be supportive in bringing Saudi Arabia closer to their conventional competitors Iran and Qatar. It is pertinent to mention here that both Iran and Qatar have friendly relations with Pakistan and have expressed their willingness to join CPEC. This will be an important foreign policy move on Pakistan’s behalf and an achievement for CPEC as an economic platform.
Eventually the CPEC could act as a driving factor to foster regional trade and economic integration between Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Africa, and Europe as well. The CPEC may even be helpful in improving the frigid political environment presently prevailing amongst these states
Eventually the CPEC could act as a driving factor to foster regional trade and economic integration between Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Africa, and Europe as well. The CPEC may even be helpful in improving the frigid political environment presently prevailing amongst these states in the near future.In order to smoothen the trade activities across the region Pakistan has a vision to improve its infrastructure network. Under CPEC US$ 10 billion have been allocated for infrastructural development. This would revitalize Pakistan’s communication and infrastructure which was on its last leg before CPEC.With such advancements Pakistan will be in a better position to transfer goods from Middle East, China, and across the region globally. Although, presently CPEC seems to be a two-pronged proposal between China and Pakistan,with Saudi Arabia’s joining the project, there is a possibility of it turning into a multilateral project.
Quratulain Hafeez has done M Phil in international relations from Quaid-I Azam University Islamabad. She is currently working as a Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute Islamabad.
She can be reached at Quraathashmi@gmail.com
Published in Daily Times, September 29th 2018.