The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has entered its second phase, with a focus on enhancing cooperation in diverse areas.
The first phase of CPEC assisted in the upgrading of Pakistan’s physical infrastructure, the meeting of acute energy demands, and the construction of Gwadar Port. However, the second phase aims to enhance collaboration between China and Pakistan by focusing on industry, agriculture, technology, and tourism.
In an interview with WealthPK, Socioeconomic Development Specialist at CPEC Authority Adnan Khan said there is complete consensus between China and Pakistan to strengthen the all-weather strategic partnership, promote cooperation in the areas of industry, agriculture, and IT, and continue joint efforts to increase cultural exchanges.
“Chinese companies are keen to assist Pakistan in improving seed quality and per-acre production. In this regard, for agricultural progress under CPEC Ph-II, partnership and cooperation with China are required in germplasm resources, capacity building, agricultural product processing, fishing, science and technology, aquaculture, aquatic product processing, and agricultural trade,” said the official.
Adnan Khan informed that due to the potential of Pak-China bilateral cooperation in the IT sector, a Joint Working Group (JWG) on IT has been established under CPEC. It is a fast-growing area of cooperation between China and Pakistan. Many Chinese technology companies are already working in Pakistan.
“The Digital Pakistan program has been established. The government has unveiled a new policy package aimed at promoting IT-related innovation and research. Furthermore, both countries have decided to establish a China-Pakistan Digital Corridor in order to strengthen their cooperation in this area,” he said.
Regarding development of innovative sectors in Pakistan, he said, it is impossible to ignore the value of technology in industries such as trade, manufacturing, agriculture, health, and education. He said artificial intelligence (AI), robots, 5G, big data, and quantum computing are all developing technologies with a significant influence on our lives. Therefore, Pakistan is paying close attention to this prospect.
In 2018, the Special Communication Organization (SCO) initiated the Pak-China Optic Fiber Cables (OFC) project, the first-ever inland telecommunication linkage between the two countries. The OFC offers multifaceted opportunities for future ICT enhancements in CPEC trade in Pakistan.
“Pakistan and China are also working to increase telecom traffic with new optical fiber connections because higher volumes of traffic from several international destinations in Europe, Middle East, and Africa through the OFC implemented under CPEC are expected,” he said.
About regional trade, the CPEC official said that regional countries are keen to transport their goods through Gwadar Port. “Two ambassadors from Central Asian countries have already visited Gwadar Port. Now, Pakistan is working on establishing a reliable supply-chain infrastructure as soon as possible to facilitate regional trade,” he further said.
“Special Economic Zones (SEZs) will accelerate the establishment of industrial joint ventures including companies from both countries. In this regard, relevant departments have been told to speed up work on SEZs, notably those in Rashakai, Dhabeji, and Faisalabad, where some work has already been done,” he added.