CPEC presenting new hopes in 2023
The sun of 2023 has emerged with new hopes for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) against the backdrop of fresh commitments to pump up more Chinese investments, rollout of three new CPEC corridors, resumption of cultural exchange programs, and activation of Special Economic Zones.
In 2023, CPEC is all set to take a centre stage in the 72 years of Pak-China diplomatic relations. As per a report titled “Overview of Pakistan’s Power Sector and its Future Outlook” issued by the China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Ltd (CSAIL), a total of more than 36 CPEC projects, with a projected expenditure of $27.5 billion, are in the works and it is believed that many of them will cross the finishing line by 2030.
The CSAIL report said that 11 energy projects and seven infrastructure projects with a total investment of $18.7 billion have already been finished, while ten additional projects – four in energy and six in infrastructure – are now undergoing implementation and are anticipated to be finished in coming years.
“Moreover, five Special Economic Zones (SEZs) will make tangible headways in 2023 with an investment of $1 billion. Four of the nine identified Special Economic Zones (SEZs) would be completed in coming years with an expenditure of $500 million,” the report said.
The year 2023 is also marking CPEC- Collaborative Research Grant (CPEC-CRG) which is one of the key component of recently launched HEC initiative namely "Academic Collaboration under CPEC Consortium of Universities". The overall objective of the said project is to understand and respond to the historic global geo-strategic and geo-economic transition and its impact on the region in general and Pakistan in particular, keeping in the view the broad Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and its Pakistan-specific component – CPEC. The national response to the strategic opportunity arising out of the emerging global dynamics is the CPEC Long Term Plan (LTP).
The collaboration of Pakistan and China on education and cultural cooperation and exchanges witnessed an upward trajectory with each passing day, as thousands of Pakistani students are currently studying in various universities in China. Similarly, exhibitions and Chinese cultural events in Pakistan are expected to increase further in 2023. While briefing Pakistani media about the 2023 Happy Chinese New Year and upcoming events in connection with the celebrations of the Chinese Spring Festival, Xing Lijun, Second Secretary, Cultural Office of the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan told the media that The Chinese government is expected to resume the cultural exchange programmes in 2023.
Similarly, the currency agreement between both nations is not only an economic masterstroke but it is also tipped as a strategic move. It is hoped that in 2023, Pakistan’s dependence on the dollar will decrease, as the central banks of Pakistan and China have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish RMB clearing mechanisms.
Despite economic challenges, China remained at the top in the list of top foreign direct investors in Pakistan. The COVID-19 outbreak and the shift in Pakistan's government had both caused a slowdown in CPEC. But those barriers are no longer present and work on CPEC is expected to pick up more pace in 2023 in terms of China FDI in Pakistan. The second phase of CPEC has broadened its scope to include collaboration on projects related to socioeconomic development, education, tourism, industry, oil and gas, research, and technology.
Since the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement phase I and phase II are in full-on operation, 2023 will see new depth in the Pak-China trade landscape so that Pakistan increases its exports to China to cure its economic imbalances and development trajectory.
In 2023, CPEC will be creating massive employment opportunities for the people of Pakistan. Recently Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong said that CPEC has created 192,000 jobs in the projects of 6000MW of power supply, 510 km of highway, and 886 km of transmission line, helping consolidate Pakistan’s socio-economic development.
In 2023, as many as 700,000 new job opportunities are estimated to be created by 2030 under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). A recent study conducted by the CPEC Centre of Excellence, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform of Pakistan showed that indirectly, CPEC could help create even 1.2 million jobs under its presently agreed projects.