Economic Watch: Karachi coastal project under CPEC to boost Pakistan's economy

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The recent inclusion of the Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone (KCCDZ) project in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will boost Pakistan's economy and enhance industrial and development cooperation between Pakistan and China, said Pakistani experts and officials.

The decision to include the project in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi into the CPEC was made at the CPEC's recent 10th Joint Cooperation Committee Meeting.

Covering a total area of about 930 hectares, of which 640 hectares are reclaimed, the environment-friendly KCCDZ envisages four new berths for the Karachi Port Trust, according to a statement from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs of Pakistan.

The mega project, being built with an expected investment of 3.5 billion U.S. dollars, will also house a state-of-the-art fishing port, with a world-class fisheries export processing zone to boost the country's trade potential, said the ministry.

It will also drastically improve the marine ecosystem and reduce pollution with the establishment of a water treatment plant, the ministry said.

Terming the project a game-changer for Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan said recently that the coastal development project will bring Karachi on a par with developed port cities of the world.

The project will present opportunities for investors, Khan said on Twitter, adding that it will also help clean up marine habitats for fishermen and develop 20,000 low-income housing units.

The KCCDZ is the first of its kind under the CPEC, which reflects the commitment of Pakistan and China to forge high-quality cooperation to improve people's livelihoods, Pakistani Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi told Xinhua.

"As all-weather strategic cooperative partners, China and Pakistan are stepping up cooperation in various sectors, giving impetus to the growth of bilateral relations, economic and social development of the two countries," the minister said.

Speaking to Xinhua, Syed Hasan Javed, director of Chinese Studies, School of Social Sciences and Humanities at the National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad, said the KCCDZ is a 21st Century modern project replete with the latest technologies, town planning, urban infrastructure, municipal amenities and environment-friendly marine development.

"It will take Pakistan's economy to the next level of prosperity by attracting foreign direct investment, generating employment and revenue, boosting exports and promoting regional and global connectivity," Javed said.

Muhammad Asif Noor, director of the Islamabad-based think tank Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, said the project carries enormous potential to spur the country's blue economy and exports.

"Fishing ports and fisheries export processing zones are critical to boost trade in fishing as coastal areas of Pakistan are rich in maritime trade, giving a way to promote the blue economy in Pakistan through infrastructure development and industrial cooperation in the said sector," Noor told Xinhua.

The project will also build up the confidence of global investors towards the country and its entire ecosystem for providing and offering a lucrative environment to set up businesses and profit, he said

"Furthermore, it has the potential to boost industrial cooperation between Pakistan and China due to its proximity with Karachi, the financial hub of the country," he added.

Noor said that the low-budget housing under the initiative will create affordability for poverty-stricken fishermen to own a house, boosting their socio-economic profile.

He said Pakistan can learn from the Chinese experience of tackling climate change and how to effectively use the project to clean up marine habitats and strengthen biodiversity conservation. (by Raheela Nazir)

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