The ‘Silicon Valley of Pakistan
During the recent months, Gwadar Port, the flagship project in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), has attracted a lot of attention from investors from China and other countries. It is becoming an industrial and investment hub of Pakistan. Since China has vast experience in port building and infrastructure, this experience may help Pakistan in making Gwadar the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Pakistan.
China’s experience in building and developing ports and basic infrastructure is certainly benefitting Pakistan and it is expected that soon Gwadar will become the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Pakistan and could emerge as center for promotion of economic activities at regional and global level. Gwadar, also called the city of fishermen like Shenzhen, China’s first special economic zone, is of central importance in the construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and projects like Gwadar Port, Gwadar Airport and Gwadar Free Zone are among the priorities of the Government of Pakistan.
Gwadar is fast becoming a hub of industrial and investment activities in Pakistan. China is also assisting Pakistan in the construction of Gwadar Port, a natural deep water port which distinguishes it from other nearby ports.
Gwadar Port is also, thanks to its strategic geographical location, significantly important because it is located at the head of the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, which can easily establish trade relations with other countries in the region.
Under the CPEC, nine special economic zones will be set up across Pakistan to promote industrialization, which will definitely increase Pakistan’s exports, create a wide range of employment opportunities, and help Pakistan’s connectivity with Central Asian states, including China. And trade ties with other regional countries will also be enhanced.
In the field of economic zones, there is vast scope and potential for cooperation and exchanges between China and Pakistan. China is known around the world for its construction and development of special economic zones. Recently, while addressing the 40th anniversary of the establishment of country’s first “Shenzhen Special Economic Zone,” Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to further expand reform and openness.
The importance of the special economic zone can be gauged from the fact that Shenzhen was counted as a small village famous for its fishing but the village has become, in just four decades, a modern city and today it is known as China’s ‘Silicon Valley’ because of its tremendous economic activity.
During the journey from 1980 to 2019, the city’s GDP grew by 20.7% annually and reached to US$ 400 billion. Shenzhen’s total imports and exports were US$ 431 in 2019.
The living standard of the Shenzhen people ha schanged dramatically and they have access to quality services in all areas including education, medical care, housing and so on. In the light of these facts, Shenzhen is today considered one of the best and most exemplary models of sustainable development in China.
The traditional strong friendship between China and Pakistan is growing stronger with the passage of time. The two countries are not only strong supporters of each other on global and regional platforms but also want strong economic and social development of each other. In terms of development, the CPEC has recently become a strong foundation of stable economic relations between the two countries. The construction of CPEC projects in Pakistan is in full swing and Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the entire nation is united for the protection and construction of CPEC. In the long run, CPEC aims to develop not only Pakistan but the region as a whole.
Pakistan is witnessing a movement of business incubators and startups. It is encouraging that youth is responding to such opportunities. The analysis of this tide reveals that efforts are yielding positive benefits. If we say it’s time to ride the tide, then it is inevitable that we highlight the opportunities the CPEC presents. Some investment from Chinese investors in this sector can make a huge impact. Pakistan is making progress in implementing infrastructure projects under CPEC but it’s time to focus on potential technological spillovers from China.