KCCDZ: A crown of Coastal Pakistan

By Muhammad Asif Noor | Gwadar Pro Oct 24, 2021

KARACHI, Oct. 24 (Gwadar Pro) - Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone (KCCDZ) is a new milestone in bilateral economic cooperation between China and Pakistan under CPEC. Recently, Pakistan and China decided to include a new project KCCDZ in CPEC to develop a maritime economic zone to facilitate blue economy in Pakistan. The inclusion of KCCDZ in CPEC is termed as a game changer in Pakistan and China alike because of its perceived potential benefits.  Given that, Pakistan and China agreed to push a project worth multi-billion Pakistani Rupee near Karachi at the 10th Joint Cooperation Committee on CPEC and this new inclusion certainly boosts cooperation at a higher level. The rationalised cost of the project has been estimated at Rs 20.7 billion on a cost-sharing basis. The project will facilitate free movement of KCR trains.

KCCDZ will help Pakistan in a number of ways. The foremost is the category of Direct Investment as China agrees to finance $3.5 billion direct investment in the project which will increase dollar reserves in Pakistan. In addition to the finances, the facilities envisioned to be developed will assist local population at the social level to seek employment, initiate fishery and fairy business to contribute to the economy while creating a tourist spot for the entire region. This zone is expected to have four new berths for Karachi Port Trust (KPT), 20,000 housing units, state of the art fishing zone and world class processing zone for fisheries. Prime Minister Imran Khan also acknowledged the development, saying it will create immense potential for new investors in the sector. It will clean the maritime ecosystem and reduce pollution by better water waste management and treatment plants at the mouth of River Lyari.  This outstanding contribution and initiative will provide impetus to the growth potential of CPEC to the next best level.

Karachi is considered as the business capital of Pakistan being a port city. It facilitates maritime trade of the entire Pakistan from its ports and presents maritime opportunities to introduce new initiatives towards the blue economy. Since it has the basic infrastructure, it would be easy to capitalize the existing environment to reinvigorate it on modern footings to increase its potential. In this regard, KCCDZ have decided to develop in the vicinity of Karachi to utilize the existing available resources and create new and modern resources for the growth of the local population and national revenue.

The inclusion of KCCDZ in the CPEC framework is an important initiative especially when Minister of Maritime Affairs personally takes care to monitor the progress and resource utilization. This will make Karachi an important top trade hub in the world in the maritime sector. This entire project has a lot to offer to Pakistan especially when there is a foreign direct investment; there comes an improvement in the trade balance. This also builds investors' confidence about the country and its entire ecosystem for providing and offering a lucrative environment to build businesses and profits. In addition, it gives employment to local companies and the population not only in the construction of the project but also after its completion.

The low-budget housing will create affordability for poor fishermen to own a house, boosting their socio-economic profile. Fishing and processing zones are critical to boost trade in fishing as coastal areas of Pakistan are rich in maritime trade, giving a way to promote the maritime economy in Pakistan through development and industrial cooperation in the said sector. Furthermore, it has the potential to boost industrial cooperation between Pakistan and China due to its proximity to Karachi. Karachi is the hub of business and considered as the growth engine of Pakistan.

In order to successfully execute the multi-billion dollar projects, it is necessary to set the right direction from the very outset. Pakistan and China are very clear regarding their goals and come up with plans for maximum possible turnover. Connecting this important project to CPEC will have a huge impact on social and economic level. It is likely to get legitimacy as the major port cities enjoy maritime industries including but not limited to ship logistics, ship manufacturing, port management, fishing and its processing. Pakistan is a house to huge maritime and inland fishery resources of multiple species. Currently, Makran coast and Karachi coast are two primary areas where the fishery industry is developed but the whole of the coastal line is linked with this small industry as this sector employs less than one percent national workforce.

Usually, fishermen use localized techniques and their whole economic life is linked with fishing only being the sole source of income. With the development of KCCDZ, this sector would be considered as a formal sector of the economy which would escalate the fishing capacity by modern means and employ more people not only in fishing but also in freezing, processing and canning.

Pakistan can learn from the outstanding Chinese experience of climate change and maritime conservation. Pakistan can further learn how to effectively use this project in cleaning the entire maritime ecosystem, habitat and biodiversity conservation. Ports are developed in urban areas of coastal regions worldwide and Pakistan also operates major ports in Karachi and Gwadar. This particular project will help Karachi and will act as a catalyst for further growth and development of the port city.

Certainly, this project will increase the potential of Pakistan to clean and protect the maritime ecosystem, establish a blue economy, facilitate infrastructure development and generate employment which in the long run can help Pakistan become on par with major developed port cities in the world in terms of trade transit, development, and economic activity. Blue economy is a new concept in line with climate change conventions which focus on socio-human development in coastal areas, equity and reduced risks to the maritime environment.

Pakistan can materialize its dream to develop the port cities on par with major port cities by generating an equal level of economic activity especially in fisheries with excellent China's support. KCCDZ is a milestone in this regard. 

*The writer is Founder Friends of Belt and Road Forum

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