CPEC Monthly Monitor – March 2018
While government continues to pin hopes from CPEC, the original alarms by smaller provinces refuse to die down easily. It is high-time that the findings and performance of the two parliamentary committees formed on CPEC be assessed; these committees are to start afresh after Senate elections in March. Also, worth considering is the idea of regional connectivity, especially after Iran rejected the notion that Chahbahar port will compete Gwadar port.
These were some of the key developments occurring in March 2018. The findings have been shared in CPEC monthly monitor, released by CPEC Watch, an initiative of Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based think tank.
Every month, CPEC Watch releases a monthly monitor summarizing key development occurring around China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Below are the salient ones for March 2018:
- To avoid any economic meltdown during CPEC execution, government has projected China and Saudi Arabia to provide “$6-8 billion breathing space.”
- The first-ever shipment of a Chinese company from Gwadar to UAE, completion of a desalination plant in Gwadar, and 1st phase of Pakistan’s railway up-gradation (likely to begin next month) illustrates progress on some of the signature projects of CPEC. However, the ML-1 project continues to face delay.
- Balochistan government has accused federal government of not releasing promised funds for the development of Gwadar port city. Baloch nationalist across Pakistan are skeptical about the benefit for them.
- Western route of the corridor continues to draw attention. KP and Balochistan politicians call upon government to fulfill the promise made at the All-Parties Conference in 2015. Government says it has been building that route; one project director reportedly said that the western route will be built ahead of the eastern one. Yet confusion reigns, with another representative saying the route has been absent from the Chinese record.
- After the APC was held, a bi-cameral parliamentary committee was formed too, which, among other things, was tasked to implement the suggestions of the APC. Late on, another parliamentary committee, in Senate, was formed too. March saw completion of some of these committees; the performance of these committees should be evaluated now.
- The government has rejected reports about Chinese companies getting tax exemption in the projects.
- There are reports that Pakistan and China will sign second phase of the Free-Trade Agreement. Government is advised not to rush into it; for one, the local manufacturers should be brought on board first.
- Not a single security-related incident was reported for the entire month. Chinese companies were allowed to hire private security guards, in addition to the ones already provided by the government.
- On the geostrategic front, Iran invited Pakistan and China to Chahbahar and discredited the misperception about Chahbahar port is a rival port to Gwadar. This resonates with the broader idea of regional connectivity too, which is cornerstone of the entire corridor project.
Read complete “CPEC Monitor – March 2018” (PDF)