The first phase of CPEC project is about to complete
by 2020. Most of the development and building works aimed under the first phase
of the project has almost been completed and now both China and Pakistan want
to move towards the second phase of the multibillion dollars project.
Under the second phase Special Economic Zones (SEZs)
will be built over trade routes at Dhabeji, Faislabad, Rashakai, Hattar, Keti
Bander and Sheikhupura while industrial estates will be developed in Vehari,
Chunia and Rahim Yar Khan. There are many speculations going on about the
second phase and its impacts on our economy and industry. To better understand
the consequences of CPEC second phase for Pakistan we have to analyze phase two
from all different perspective.
With the installation of these SEZs benefits that
according to some prominent economists Pakistan is likely gain are
Economic Activity: It is an obvious fact that with the
creation of Special Economic Zones at different regions over trade and transit
routes economic activities will groom at these sites. Such economic activities
will have enormous positive effects on the economy of the country.
For Business: With the creation of SEZs business
opportunities for locals will also increases. There are many business
opportunities in Pakistan and let us hope that Special Economic Zones may prove
a trigger point for all of them.
Goods: It is also believed that Special Economic Zones
(SEZs) will prove a major market for the availability of intermediate goods for
the local industry. Every year Pakistan imports million dollars intermediate
goods that the country then assembled and produced final goods. Now with
availability of these goods within the country, Pakistan’s import cost will
decrease to a greater extent.
in Local Industry: The establishment of SEZs will not only
help in the creation of new business opportunities but it will also lead to the
development of many new innovations in local industry.
Of Industry: Industrial sector in Pakistan is facing
a swift decline for the past few decades. It is believed that the creation of
SEZs will not only help in the revival of industrial sector in Pakistan but it
will also help in diverting government’s attention towards it.
Some expected negative effects of Special Economic Zones
on Pakistan’s economy and industry are
Of Fertile Land: Many people in Pakistan are objecting
the creation of Special Economic Zones at the pointed sites for the
exploitation of fertile land at these area. They believed that Pakistan has
basically an agricultural economy and the use of fertile land at these sites
for the establishment of SEZs means a greater agricultural loss to the country.
Industry: Another very serious point of concern is the
uncertain future of Pakistan’s local industry. Generally it is believed that at
SEZs mainly Chinese industry will be installed. In such case what will be the
position of Pakistan’s domestic industry in these zones?
Raw Material: Similarly if Pakistan will start
receiving readymade intermediate goods then how the country will utilize her
own raw materials? In case of import of readymade intermediate goods from China
how the country will manage to utilize her own crude materials?
Labor Force: The uncertain future and role of Pakistani
labor force in Special Economic Zones is also a matter of serious concern both for
the public and labors. Generally it was believed that the establishment of SEZs
will help in the creation of many jobs but now there are speculations of the
use of mostly Chinese labor force at these sites. In such case what will be the
future of our labor market?
Of Agriculture Sector: And last but not the least, what will
be the future of Pakistan’s agricultural sector? It is believed that the
creation of SEZs and the increase of industrial activity in the country will probably
shift away government’s attention from agricultural sector. In such case the
already troubled agricultural sector of Pakistan may face more troubles. We
should not forget that agricultural products constitute 21% of Pakistan’s GDP
and 45% population of the country is either directly or indirectly linked with
CPEC and the creation of Special Economic Zones are no
doubt promising steps towards industrial and economic development of the country
but the government should not overlook other side of the coin.