PAK­ISTAN’S 3 ECO­NOMIC ZONES SET TO TAKE OFF

China to co­op­er­ate in the de­vel­op­ment of Faisal­abad, Hat­tar, Dhabeji in­dus­trial ar­eas

The Gulf Today - Business - - FRONT PAGE -

IS­LAM­ABAD: Three pri­ori­tised Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones (SEZS) of the China-pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) are set to take off, as Bei­jing has agreed to co­op­er­ate in the de­vel­op­ment of Faisal­abad, Hat­tar and Dhabeji in­dus­trial ar­eas.

China con­veyed its will­ing­ness to pro­mote these zones dur­ing the sec­ond meet­ing of the Joint Work­ing Group (JWG) on In­dus­trial Co­op­er­a­tion, an­nounced the Board of In­vest­ment.

The meet­ing was co-chaired by Li Xue­dong, Deputy Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Depart­ment of In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion, NDRC and Azher Ali Choudhry, the BOI sec­re­tary.

The joint work­ing group met ahead of the planned 7th meet­ing of the Joint Co­op­er­a­tion Com­mit­tee - the high­est de­ci­sion mak­ing body of the CPEC. The work­ing group dis­cussed in de­tails the de­liv­er­ables that will now be pre­sented to the JCC for its for­mal ap­proval.

Chi­nese side, on the ba­sis of their own as­sess­ment, agreed to ini­tially co­op­er­ate in the de­vel­op­ment and pro­mo­tion of three pri­or­i­tized SEZS; M3 In­dus­trial City in Faisal­abad, Pun­jab, Chi­nese SEZ Dhabeji, Sindh and Hat­tar SEZ in KP prov­ince, said the BOI. Both sides agreed to pro­mote SEZS by us­ing the avail­able mech­a­nism of par­ent and sis­ter cities co­op­er­a­tion ar­range­ments, it added.

The three SEZS were among nine zones that had been ap­proved in prin­ci­ple by the 6th JCC held in De­cem­ber last year in Bei­jing.

LONG TERM PLAN

How­ever, the progress on other six sites was not sat­is­fac­tory and in some cases the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments have not yet sub­mit­ted the fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies, ac­cord­ing to BOI of­fi­cials. De­vel­op­ment of the SEZS is the most crit­i­cal part of the Long Term Plan (LTP) of CPEC that prom­ises in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion of Pak­istan, cre­ation of new jobs and sus­tain­able bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion.

The BOI said that the Chi­nese side showed sat­is­fac­tion over the SEZ Law and fa­vor­able in­cen­tives for in­vestors.

A num­ber of Chi­nese in­vestors have shown great in­ter­est in in­vest­ing in M3 In­dus­trial City in Faisal­abad, Chi­nese SEZ Dhabeji, Sindh and Hat­tar SEZ in KP prov­ince, said the BOI.

It was sug­gested that based on the will­ing­ness of the com­pa­nies, Pak­istan side should de­velop mech­a­nisms to en­cour­age in­vest­ment in the three SEZS. Chi­nese side will co­op­er­ate, fa­cil­i­tate and en­cour­age Chi­nese com­pa­nies for es­tab­lish­ing iconic projects to strengthen the Pak-china bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.

The is­sue of the own­er­ship struc­ture and the fi­nanc­ing mod­els of these SEZS will be dis­cussed dur­ing Se­nior Of­fi­cials meet­ing that will be held a day be­fore the JCC meet­ing.

The land is­sue has been a key chal­lenge in the fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of ex­ist­ing for­eign-funded en­ter­prises in Pak­istan, ac­cord­ing to a study of China De­vel­op­ment Bank that has been car­ried out to de­velop the long term plan of the CPEC.

The study noted that as land is a pri­vate prop­erty in Pak­istan, it is rel­a­tively dif­fi­cult for en­ter­prises to ex­pro­pri­ate land in­de­pen­dently.

As the en­ter­prises in the in­dus­trial parks pro­mote the de­vel­op­ment of sur­round­ing cities, the pur­chas­ing and leas­ing price of land also goes up cor­re­spond­ingly, which has re­stricted the de­vel­op­ment scale of en­ter­prises in the pro­duc­tion parks.

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