Pakistan, China, Turkey co-op: prospects for regional integration

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By Ms. Mehreen Gul, Director, Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad & Eurasian Expert

Pakistan, Turkey, and China hold the capacity to synergize and construct new norms for regional progress. Turkey’s participation in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects can enhance regional stability and financial creditability. Its collaboration with Pakistan and China in trade enhancing import-export schemes and resource managements would generate investments and pave the way for the regional to cross-continental reaches. The paper explores the prospects for cooperation between Pakistan-Turkey-China. The study also highlights strategic cooperation among these three countries that will enhance their multilateral cooperation.

Turkey’s Trade Ramifications:

The establishment of the modern Turkish Republic sets its national mode into a consistent and positive attitude on the world’s political roadmap. The new patterns of cooperation to tackle global challenges investigates its constructive engagement with the world. Furthermore, strengthening of the Islamic-oriented perspective adheres to its new outlook in the future. This approach comprises with two significant elements i.e., orchestrating the trade modules in a new direction and calculated fortification of the resources.  In 2018, Turkey aimed at achieving domestic gains by reaching Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $ 2.6 trillion and reducing the unemployment rate to 5% as important tasks of the 2023 vision. By becoming the hub of enhanced trade activities, Istanbul can connect other remote industries to the global markets on two levels. For example: promoting external trading sub-hubs to establish trade-congestion areas and reducing taxes. This shall facilitate trade and exchange of external investors from the world centres to the Turkey. It holds a superior position and is benefited from 90% of the Euphrates River and 45% of the Tigress River. In this aspect, generating hydropower energy can foster the five-year growth plans of post-2023 and establish its regional importance to become a major investor in the regional power supply.

Pakistan’s Vision for Regional Growth

Pakistan has entered a phase of growth where the need for economic and financial sustenance plans relies on two major counterparts. First is the revival of the economic policies. In this module, the focus should be on enhancing the potential of existing resources and development. In 2019, year report by the country’s finance division stated that according to the World Bank, Pakistan’s encouraging growth capacity to take its economy, worth US $ 2 trillion in the next 28 years. This would be achieved via higher foreign investments, trade efficiency, and enhanced cross-border productivity. For this purpose, there have been increased negotiations and plans of cooperation occurring to enhance the fiscal space via private sectoral cooperation. Furthermore, East, West, South-East and North-West regions are holding huge potential for growing economies. This has opened multiple pathways for Pakistan to function its signified trade corridor. The route’s provision to facilitate the cross-regional trade would also enable Pakistan to increase its financial gains.

Building Blocks for Tri-lateral Cooperation: Turkey-Pakistan-China

A famous narrative has revolved around the globe about the new powers’ emergence in a multipolar world and how the prior superpowers are trying to complacent themselves to the new transformed reality. China, as a rising power is associating the world with its transformative narratives. In this context, its effort to engage Iran and Turkey is another step to increase economic connectivity. Being the closest ally of Pakistan, it can help to give a panacea to the regional security situation, economic complexities and build the region’s resilience.

Pakistan, Turkey, and China can deliver new regional trading schemes, dialogues, and their implementations. The trilateral cooperation would change the dynamic of regional cooperation and boost economic and trade activities. The regional gains vis-a-vis CPEC project facilitate the friendship and synergy of these countries. In this aspect, the prospects and opportunities for cooperation with Turkey are high. Turkey’s Strategic Economic Framework (SEF) and the collaborative terms of the Strategic Economic Group (SEC) with Pakistan aim to reinvigorate the financial potential. Following are the factors that can enhance the existing potential.

  • Enhancing academic collaboration, institutional schemes, and scholarship opportunities for students. It would enhance people-to-people connectivity and cross-border cooperation.
  • Cooperation via trade transit and energy corridors are the focus. The Turkish investors’ interest in cross-investments can provide new trade avenues and vice versa. Furthermore, the hydro-energy and agri-sectors can become the factor to push the bilateral ties.

China is changing the cooperative patterns worldwide via its innovative narratives that can add to sustainable economic development. These formatted zones via connecting cultures, institutions, and norms with a shared future among nations will increase economic expansion. Furthermore, the projects and opportunities under Belt Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC have also enhanced cooperation in multiple domains. BRI is a unique initiative globally, which offers a plethora of opportunities for sustainable development across and within countries. China, by its regional and economic connectivity projects, i.e., BRI, CPEC, and building community with a shared future, leaves no stone unturned in its great endeavours to associate with the world. These established latest trends would build states’ resilience to counter present and future perils through cooperation and sustainable policy mechanism.

The schemes of large scales projects between both countries includes cooperation in the nuclear-energy sector, railroad sector and signing of the International Highway Transportation orients and new cross-regional stratum. The shifting of trade schemes towards Ankara with its strategic capability can provide China with many opportunities to integrate. According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the Chinese Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Turkey was $ 642.3 million in 2018.  In 2019, the Ministry of Economy (Turkey) mentioned the presence of Chinese companies to number around 786. In this aspect, it can be anticipated that the ratio will increase in recent times. It will foster regional trade cooperation and strengthen bilateral ties. Moreover, Turkey’s amalgamation under CPEC would benefit it in many domains. It will strengthen the existing strategic and economic partnership between Pakistan and Turkey. It will bridge the gap in business infrastructure and leads to multi-lateral cooperative patterns.

The strategic collaboration between Pakistan and Turkey is already bringing benefits and positive outcomes. The position of China-Pakistan and Turkey as a stakeholder in the Afghan peace process also mark significance for regional stability. Furthermore, exercises like 2021 ATTATURK-XI between the special forces of Pakistan-Turkey would strengthen the military partnership for tackling cross-border challenges. Pakistan has also been holding naval exercises with Iran in the Persian Gulf. The recent largest naval exercise AMAN 2021, in the Arabian Sea, can be seen as an exceptional example. These strategic drills would pave the way for implementing the multilateral approaches in conflict resolution and enhancing maritime security.  The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) also provides great prospects for Turkey’s Inclusion. Turkey has become a close member of the SCO, and it attained the status of a dialogue partner in 2012. Turkey has the potential to become the member of SCO. China and Pakistan are already members of the SCO and the amalgamation of Turkey will pave the way for reinvigorating triangle cooperation.

Conclusion

One of the major challenges faced by the globe is the insecurity and insufficiency of energy. Presently, industrial and energy sectors are highly impacted by the outbreak of the Covid-19. However, trilateral and regional cooperation offers help in overcoming the industrial and economic setbacks experienced by countries. The project has made paths easier to meet the domestic and economic industrial demands. In a nutshell, there is still huge potential that exists within these countries that need to be explored.  There are many avenues for Pakistan-China and Turkey to collaborate. Their opted integrated policies would result as a beneficiary for regional integration and geo-political events in the near future.