CPEC’s Special Economic Zone to bring economic prosperity

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Bureau Report

PESHAWAR: Despite substantial population growth, the Asian continent has achieved remarkable successes after shifting the engine of economic and industrial growth from Global North to Global South during the last few decades.
The positive transformation has also been witnessed in South Asia including Pakistan where communication infrastructure, economy, trade, forest, agriculture, education, health, transport, media and industrial sectors have improved significantly. It was primarily due its prime geographical location, different climates, rich mines and mineral wealth, deep seaports and massive human resources.
Resultantly, the flow of direct foreign investment (DFI) were diverted to Pakistan as evident from billions dollars multifaceted China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a major component of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Initiative, which has entered into industrialization phase after signing of the landmark Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Development Agreement between Pakistan and China.
Following official announcement of CPEC, around 37 zones were proposed as Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for all provinces of the country out of which establishment of nine SEZs were prioritized including Rashakai Nowshera, Dhabeji, Bostan Industrial Zone, Allama Iqbal Industrial City Faisalabad, ICT Model Industrial Zone Islamabad, Industrial Park Pakistan Steel Mills Port Qasim, Mirpur Industrial Zone AJK, Mohmand Marble City and Moqpondass in Gilgit-Baltistan.
However, Rashakai SEZ is holding a unique competitive advantage due to its proximity to first juncture of CPEC route, close location with Peshawar airport and ML-I besides a significant resource and manufacturing base in the entire region. Conceptualized by the KP Economic Zone Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC), Rashakai SEZ is a flagship project of the KP Government that would be established on 1,000 acres land with collaboration of China on Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway (M1) in Nowshera district. “The 1,000 acres land of Rashakai SEZ would be developed in three phases. The total area designated for Industrial use is 702 acres and as per Federal SEZ Areas Regulations, of which 159 acres would be developed in Phase I, 279 acres in Phase II and 264 acres in Phase III. Likewise, 76 acres land was allocated for commercial purposes,” said Spokesperson of Board of Investment (BOI), Islamabad while talking to APP.
The project initiated after MOUs were signed during KP-China Roadshow in April 2017. The KP Government after long deliberations signed the Concessional Agreement with China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) to develop Rashakai SEZ during Prime Minister Imran Khan historic visit to China where he attended Second Belt and Road Forum (SBRF) and Beijing International Horticulture Exhibition (BIHE) 2019.
The project with an expected foreign investment of US $128 million had been awarded SEZ status on August 6, 2019 before its Concession Agreement was signed in April 2019. On September 14, 2020, Pakistan and China signed the historic Rashakai SEZ Development Agreement in Islamabad, paving the way for construction of the mega CPEC project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The BOI spokesperson said the agreement has provided a comprehensive roadmap for establishment of Rashakai SEZ while holding the federal and provincial governments besides the developer jointly responsible for its timely development and completion on modern lines.