CPEC and Economic Growth By Sajjad Bukhari

CPEC and Economic Growth By Sajjad Bukhari

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not only a cooperative endeavour between Pakistan and China, rather the Corridor carries a regional impact. CPEC will be a bridge between South, East and Central Asia. The economic dividends linked to the corridor will benefit the three regions. Central-South Asia connectivity will open up prospects of energy cooperation. Likewise, Kashgar-Gwadar linkage will open up trade cooperation between countries of East and South Asia. With economic connectivity, the political environment as a whole will be more inclined towards economic interdependence and trading ties. The transition towards geo-economics will also strengthen the prospects of technological exchange. This development will be useful for the developing economies as the countries will get an opportunity to learn from the best practices and expertise of China in trade, agriculture and technology. Besides, the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) built under the CPEC is a positive step towards industrialisation. With foreign companies in SEZs, the local companies will get an exposure of international markets. The local companies can learn from foreign companies; it can provide a base to connect with international markets.

With economic connectivity, the political environment, as a whole, will be more inclined towards economic interdependence.

Seeing the importance of CPEC, in context of Pakistan and China, the corridor is reflective of both countries orientation towards geo-economics. Pakistan and China’s orientation towards economic growth varies as China is an economic power whereas Pakistan faces challenges of economic growth. However, in either of the case, both the countries tilt towards regional connectivity is to out-manoeuver the challenges at regional front. For China, CPEC is an economic outlet to trans-regionally grow beyond East Asia. CPEC will provide China with an easy access to Indian Ocean and more outlets for China’s growing economy. In context of Pakistan, the country having fought militancy for more than a decade is still confronted with terrorism, due to which the country’s economy has suffered. With CPEC, Pakistan can improve its economy, challenges like poverty, joblessness will be addressed. The socio-economic development will deter the extremist tendencies. Thus, CPEC’s significance for both China and Pakistan is economic growth.

CPEC’s aim is trade connectivity, and economic prosperity. The idea is in line with the narrative of peace and regional stability. However, there are elements which do not want an economically prosperous South Asia. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Kulbhushan Yadav are reflective of the coercive and subversive pursuits targeted at sabotaging CPEC. This adversarial mindset is a challenge for the smooth operation of CPEC. In March this year, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) militants tried to infiltrate the Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) complex, the terrorist attempt was foiled by the Pakistan Army. Such attacks are a reminder that to connect economically, terrorism will have to be defeated. Another dimension of CPEC is China’s enhanced role in region. This aspect has a geopolitical connotation. India wary of losing regional ground to China has opposed CPEC. Indian stance over CPEC is a testament to regional confrontational politics. Here the point that needs deliberation is the linkage of terrorism with non-traditional security challenges like extreme poverty. The countries that are opposing CPEC need to look at the corridor from a regional lens. Terrorism and human security are issues that require efforts at regional front. ASEAN is an example in which, the Southeast Asian economies have flourished as region. The ASEAN countries have disputes with China in the South China Sea but the conflicting claims have not stopped the countries from economic cooperation. In South Asia, the lack of a vision to grow as a region is an impediment in countries economic growth.

Lastly, in backdrop of terrorism’s regional impact, there is a need to evolve a regional counter terrorism approach. Conducive political environment will encourage foreign investment. Thus, the hostile regional approaches need to be replaced with economic cooperation.

The writer is a Research Intern at Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI)

CPEC and Economic Growth By Sajjad Bukhari

Source: https://dailytimes.com.pk/1204440/cpec-and-economic-growth/

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