The Pakistan High Commission organized a webinar on ‘Investment Opportunities in CPEC related Special Economic Zones (SEZs)’ in collaboration with the Embassy of China on 8 July 2021.
The webinar was held for the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Pakistan and China and brought to light the transformative potential of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) while highlighting opportunities for foreign investors.
The audience comprised a broad spectrum ranging from business chambers, infrastructure companies in Singapore and China to think tanks and diplomatic Missions based in Singapore.
In her opening remarks, High Commissioner Rukhsana Afzaal underscored the dividends brought in by the wide array of energy and infrastructure initiatives under the CPEC that are aimed at promoting connectivity among 60 countries across Asia, Europe, and Africa.
Her views were emphasized by the Charge d’Affaires a.i. Embassy of China, Singapore, Zhang Xumin, who expounded on the importance of the project for both the countries.
The keynote speeches were delivered by Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, the Chairman CPEC Authority, and Ying Xiong, Director General National Development and Reform Commission, who stressed the significance of the high demonstration project for the region in general and for the bilateral ties between the two countries in particular.
The Chairman CPEC stated that 37 SEZs had been planned under the CPEC, of which nine had been prioritized and four had already been completed. He also noted last week’s groundbreaking ceremony of the Gwadar Free Zone by the Prime Minister as an important milestone whereby 2,220 acres of land were allocated for development projects as part of the CPEC.
A vibrant panel discussion was led by Faraz Zaidi, the Director-General (China), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad and participated in by Du Zhenli, Director General, China International Engineering and Consulting Cooperation (CIECC), Fareena Mazhar, Secretary, Board of Investment, Islamabad; Kho Choon Keng, Vice President, Singapore-China Business Association; Farhan Talib, Regional General Manager (China & Singapore), Habib Bank Ltd.; and, Chen Wei Hao, Vice Chairman, Belt and Road Committee, China Enterprises Association (Singapore).
The panelists highlighted the investment potential of the CPEC project for foreign investors, particularly in the SEZs, and emphasized the presence of Chinese companies such as Century Steel and Power China that have already started their operations in Pakistan.
They also discussed the opportunities offered by the SEZs for Singapore and the ASEAN-based infrastructure community. The role of the financial institutions in the CPEC was highlighted, and the assurance that all the investment in CPEC was covered under the sovereign guarantee of the Government of Pakistan was also pointed out.
A lively question and answer session ensued after the panel discussions that further enlightened the audience about the promising investment opportunities offered under the CPEC, SEZs framework.