PESHAWAR: The business community of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has sought a level playing field, equal incentives in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project, and called to formulate a solid strategy to protect the indigenous industry and compete with the Chinese investors.
They expressed their concern during a consultative meeting titled “CPEC Challenges and Opportunities” jointly organized by the Federal Board of Investment (BoI) and Ministry of Planning and Development (P&D) in collaboration with the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) at the Chamber House on Friday.
Zahid Shinwari, ex-President SCCI, said the industry and the people are still in the dark regarding the terms of the deal signed almost two years back. He said they neither consult nor share plan before the execution of the development projects under the CPEC, which had generated a number of apprehensions and doubts about the multi-billion dollars project.
Former president said the Free Trade Agreement and Preferential Trade Agreements with other countries affected the local industries while the market will rapidly flood with Chinese products as Pakistan has not prepared any policy and grounds to protect the local industries, he noted.
“Is any policy existing to facilitate the existing industrial units and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor? said Babar Hamayun, Vice-President of Swabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Malik Awan Ishaq said that China government offered zero percent loans to companies, but local industries are paying about 8 to 9 percent markup on loans. Whether we can compete with Chinese companies in the present circumstances, he asked. Therefore the industrialists have asked the federal government to take practical measures for protection of local industries instead of assurance through verbal statements.
Earlier, addressing the participants, Chinese Diplomat Jiang Han said the CPEC will further boost economic and trade relations between China and Pakistan. He informed the media that about 18-20 projects have been successfully executed which would bring economic prosperity and development in Pakistan.
The diplomat said that Pakistan is an important destination for Chinese investments. He asked the Pakistani investors to take full benefits from the CPEC. He expressed the hope that the CPEC will grow local economy and create maximum job opportunities for the people of Pakistan. He also mentioned that CPEC has widely expanded by inclusion of more projects during the last Joint Corporation Meeting on CPEC in Beijing, China.
In his multi-media presentation, Director General BoI Riffat Pervez said the industries cannot be flourished with electricity and infrastructure development, which are the key component of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. He informed the media that 46 potential sites have been identified for Special Economic Zones (SEZs) alongside the CPEC in consultation with provincial governments including AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan and Fata.
Regarding the research-based outcome, Pervez said the CPEC is dynamic project whose portfolio reached 59 billion dollars from initial estimated 43 billion dollars. He stressed that private sector interest and ownership would lead to successful CPEC projects.
Hassan Ansari, Chief Strategist from KPEZDMC through his multi-media presentation, briefed the participation about the actual situation and KP is getting how many projects under the CPEC. He said the company had planned to develop more than 18 Economic zones across the province, which would later gain gradually Special Economic Zones (SEZs) status. He informed the participants that KP government had so far signed deals with Government of China for development of five economic zones under CPEC.
Earlier, Chamber President Mohammad Afzal also spoke.