Karako­ram High­way Pak­istan’s route to suc­cess­ful trade

Enterprise - - Trade watch -

The for­eign pol­icy of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China has been crafted to max­imise gains from glob­al­i­sa­tion and in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion and quicken the pace of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment by in­ter­link­ing the do­mes­tic and world mar­kets.

In the cur­rent strate­gic jar­gon, the Karako­ram High­way is viewed as a win­dow for China over­look­ing south­ern Asia. Pak­istan and China re­mained en­gaged in the qual­i­ta­tive up-gra­da­tion of the Pak­istanChina road link with agree­ments worth $327 mil­lion, un­der the ten­ure of Sal­man Bashir, the Am­bas­sador of Pak­istan to China un­til 2008. In 2011, the Pak­istan gov­ern­ment ap­proved Rs. 25 bil­lion for the ex­pan­sion of the Karako­ram High­way.

The ex­pan­sion plan of the Karako­ram High­way is a re­flec­tion of its strate­gic and com­mer­cial im­por­tance for Pak­istan. The road will be ex­panded to four lanes from the ex­ist­ing two by the Na­tional High­way Au­thor­ity. With fund­ing from the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank, upgra­da­tion of the high­way will en­able Pak­istan to play a cen­tral role in re­gional transit trade.

Other coun­tries, Nepal in par­tic­u­lar, sup­port the ex­pan­sion of the Asian high­way to in­crease eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in Nepal and Pak­istan. Nepal holds the view that Pak­istan has the po­ten­tial to link the South Asian coun­tries through the Karako­ram High­way with China and be­yond into the East. Nepal an­tic­i­pates a piv­otal role for Pak­istan in the emerg­ing geo-eco­nom­ics of the South Asian re­gion. For this rea­son, the coun­try is will­ing to deepen bi­lat­eral re­la­tions with Pak­istan in the fields of agri­cul­ture, en­ergy, en­vi­ron­ment, science and tech­nol­ogy, IT, ed­u­ca­tion, cul­ture and pub­lic diplo­macy.

In ad­di­tion, Kyr­gyzs­tan is also in ne­go­ti­a­tions with China and Pak­istan over es­tab­lish­ing di­rect road links through the Karako­ram High­way for fur­ther im­prov­ing trade re­la­tions. In a meet­ing be­tween the Kyr­gyz Am­bas­sador, Bek­tur Asanov and busi­ness­men at the Islamabad Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try (ICCI), the fact was high­lighted that di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels would in­crease bi­lat­eral trade by ten times be­tween Pak­istan and Kyr­gyzs­tan. The am­bas­sador also re­ferred to the pop­u­lar­ity of Pak­istani tex­tile prod­ucts and in­vited lo­cal busi­ness­men to set up tex­tile in­dus­tries in Kyr­gyzs­tan.

The ex­pan­sion of the Karako­ram High­way will be fol­lowed by China’s ef­forts to ex­pand its strate­gic foot­print in the re­gion. China has been work­ing to in­ten­sify the de­vel­op­ment of trade in South Asia for some time now. For ex­am­ple, the coun­try has built ports at strate­gic lo­ca­tions in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pak­istan and Burma. At the same time, the Karako­ram High­way has also be­come a cen­tral fo­cus of at­ten­tion for the South and Cen­tral Asian coun­tries aim­ing to achieve trade ex­pan­sion with China.

China is busy in strength­en­ing ties with the South Asian coun­tries by be­ing in­volved in a tri­lat­eral pro­ject of road and rail link with Bangladesh and Burma, whereas both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are will­ing to be­come trans-ship­ment hubs in South Asia. Bangladesh hopes to be­come a hub for goods bound for Nepal, Bhutan and North­east In­dia. In ad­di­tion, China is plan­ning to con­struct a deep-sea port at Sona­dia Is­land. Along with pro­tect­ing its lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion over sea, China is deeply in­ter­ested in se­cur­ing over­land ac­cess routes to these ports.

China’s eco­nomic growth is de­pen­dent on its ex­port per­for­mance and con­sti­tutes about 40 per­cent of its GDP. It is, there­fore, un­der­stand­ably keen to ex­plore and ex­pand mar­kets for its prod­ucts. De­spite its ri­valry with In­dia, the coun­try with a pop­u­la­tion of more than a bil­lion is a huge at­trac­tion for China. The pri­vate sec­tors of both the coun­tries have en­tered busi­ness deals worth nearly $16 bil­lion. The Chinese Prime Min­is­ter Wen Ji­abao, while in dis­cus­sion with his In­dian coun­ter­part Man­mo­han Singh, said that In­dia and China should open their mar­kets to each other to give sup­port to mu­tual eco­nomic growth. Ji­abao sug­gested that China and In­dia have a dif­fer­ent mix of in­dus­tries, prod­ucts, tech­nolo­gies and ex­per­tise, so they could be more ben­e­fi­cial for each other.

Chinese diplo­macy should be a re­al­is­tic model for Pak­istan for main­tain­ing bi­lat­eral re­la­tions with the South and Cen­tral Asian coun­tries, along with play­ing a cen­tral role in re­gional trade. The Karako­ram High­way is a valu­able as­set of Pak­istan which it should har­ness to achieve strate­gic im­por­tance in the re­gion

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.