Business / Economy

CPEC to create fresh business opportunities

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-06-15 16:42

BEIJING -- The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will create new business opportunities for enterprises in many economic sectors, according to officials.

The CPEC is at the center of the agreements signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Pakistan in April. Besides energy, the CPEC involves wide cooperation in fields including agriculture, finance and industrial parks, said Sun Weidong, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan.

The main objective of the CPEC is to create a 3,000-km economic corridor between the port of Gwadar in Pakistan and Xinjiang in northwest China. Construction of roads, railways and pipelines across Pakistan is expected to take around 15 years.

"The corridor should prioritize infrastructure including highways, railways, tunnels and optical cables," said She Ruiyuan, head of the Development and Reform Commission of Kashgar in Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan to the west.

There is only one highway between Kashgar and Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. Winding precipitously through the mountains, the road was built in the 1960s and has been battered by bad weather ever since.

"China-Pakistan trade remains small, strangled by poor roads," said Pan Zhiping, professor at Xinjiang University.

In 2014, trade between Pakistan and Xinjiang was $147 million, far less than Xinjiang's $12.2-billion with another neighbor, Kazakhstan, according to He Yiming, director of Xinjiang commerce department.

"We should prepare to build a railway between China and Pakistan as soon as possible," said He Sanqiu, head of transport in Kashgar.

Rail is "the easiest way" to link Kashgar with south Asia, the Arab peninsula and even parts of east Africa around the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, said He Sanqiu.

There are plenty of opportunities to increase trade, including industrial parks, agriculture and tourism, according to He Sanqiu. China and Pakistan have plans for trade to increase to around 20 billion dollars within three years from the current 16 billion dollars.

A 100,000-kilowatt photovoltaic power station built by China in Pakistan was completed in May under the CPEC framework, exemplifying efficient cooperation, said Ambassador Sun.

Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab, said in an article earlier this month that "a number of Chinese companies are investing in Pakistan and investment will increase in the future."

The CPEC "will open a new chapter of economic cooperation and subsequently progress and prosperity in the region," he said.

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