Campaign of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) About CPEC

An unrelenting campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been unleashed in the media in recent weeks. This strategy harkens back to the aggressive marketing techniques used by the American computer giant IBM in the 1970s to fight competition. As in IBM's case, the greatest fear of the perpetrators of FUD is that CPEC will succeed and lift Pakistan up along with rising China.

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD):

A definition of FUD that captures its essence is offered by Roger Irwin as follows: "Unable to respond with hard facts, scare-mongering is used via 'gossip channels' to cast a shadow of doubt over the competitors offerings and make people think twice before using it".

A number of articles in western and Indian media have attempted to use FUD against China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Some Pakistani journalists and commentators, some unwittingly, have also joined in the campaign.   As expected, these detractors ignore volumes of data and evidence that clearly contradict their claims.

Part of the motivation of those engaged in FUD against CPEC appears to be to check China's rise and Pakistan's rise with its friend and neighbor to the north. Their aim is to preserve and protect the current world order created by the Western Powers led by the United States at the end of the second world war.




Growing Infrastructure Gap:

Development of physical infrastructure, including electricity and gas infrastructure, is essential for economic and social development of a country such as Pakistan. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor financing needs to be seen in the context of the large and growing infrastructure gap in Asia that threatens social and economic progress.

 Rich countries generally raise funds for infrastructure projects by selling bonds while most developing countries rely on loans from international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to finance infrastructure projects.

The infrastructure financing needs of the developing countries far exceed the capacity of the World Bank and the regional development banks such as ADB to fund such projects. A recent report by the Asian Development Bank warned that there is currently $1.7 trillion infrastructure gap that threatens growth in Asia. The 45 countries surveyed in the ADB report, which covers 2016-2030, are forecast to need investment of $26 trillion over 15 years to maintain growth, cut poverty and deal with climate change.



Chinese CPEC Loans to Pakistan:

About 80% of the $55 billion of the Chinese money for CPEC is private investment while the rest is composed of soft loans to the government, according to Shanghai Business Review.

The Chinese soft loans for CPEC infrastructure projects carry an interest rate of just 1.6%, far lower than similar loans offered by the World Bank at rates of 3.8% or higher.

Chinese companies investing in Pakistan are getting loans from China's ExIm Bank at concessional rates and from China Development Bank at commercial rates. These loans will be repaid by the Chinese companies from their income from these investments, not by Pakistani taxpayers.

Rising Confidence in Pakistan:

Pakistani economy is already beginning to reap the benefits of the current and expected investments as seen in the 5.2% GDP growth in the current fiscal year, the highest in 9 years.

The World Bank's Pakistan Development Update of May 2017 says that "Pakistan’s economy continues to grow strongly, emerging as one of the top performers in South Asia".

Rapidly expanding middle class and rising demand for consumer durables like vehicles and home appliances attest to the positive impact of CPEC. Consumer confidence in Pakistan has reached its highest level since 2008, according to Nielsen.

US-based consulting firm Deloitte and Touche estimates that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects will create some 700,000 direct jobs during the period 2015–2030 and raise its GDP growth rate to 7.5%,  adding 2.5 percentage points to the country's current GDP growth rate of 5%.

US News Ranks Pakistan Among World's 20 Most Powerful Nations


Countering FUD:

Pakistani government should respond to the FUD campaign against CPEC by countering it with facts and data and increasing transparency in how CPEC projects are being financed, contracted and managed. It is particularly important in a low-trust society like Pakistan's where people can be easily persuaded to believe the worst about their leaders and institutions. 

Summary:

An unrelenting campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been unleashed in the media in recent weeks. This strategy harkens back to the aggressive marketing techniques used by the American computer giant IBM in the 1970s to fight competition. Part of the motivation of those engaged in FUD against CPEC appears to be to check China's rise and Pakistan's rise with its friend and neighbor to the north. As in IBM's case, the greatest fear of the perpetrators of FUD is that CPEC will succeed and lift Pakistan up along with rising China.  Their aim is to preserve and protect the current world order created by the Western Powers led by the United States at the end of the second world war.   Pakistani government should respond to the FUD campaign against CPEC by countering it with facts and data and increasing transparency in how CPEC projects are being financed, contracted and managed. 

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Riaz Haq said…
Economic Survey of Pakistan 2016-17


http://www.finance.gov.pk/survey/chapters_17/overview_2016-17.pdf


Per Capita Income in dollar terms has witnessed
a growth of 6.4 percent in FY 2017 as
compared to 1.1 percent last year. The per
capita income in dollar terms has increased
from $ 1,531 in FY 2016 to $ 1,629 in FY
2017. Main contributing factors for the rise in
per capita income are higher real GDP, growth,
low population growth and stability of Pak
Rupee.

------------------

Real GDP growth was above
four percent in 2013-14 and has smoothly
increased during the last four years to reach
5.28 percent in 2016-17, which is the highest in
10 years.

----

The agriculture sector met
its growth target of 3.5 percent, helped by
government supportive policies and by
increased agriculture credit disbursements.
During 2015-16, the agriculture credit
disbursement was close to Rs 600 billion while
during 2016-17, the target was raised to Rs 700
billion. During July-March 2016-17, the
disbursement was observed to be 23 percent
higher as compared to the previous year. These
developments, along with the Prime Minister’s
Agriculture Kissan Package together with other
relief measures have started yielding positive
results.
The large-scale manufacturing output is
primarily based on Quantum Index
Manufacturing (QIM) data, which show an
increase by 5.06 percent from July 2016 to
March 2017. Major contributors to this growth
are sugar (29.33 percent), cement (7.19
percent), tractors (72.9 percent), trucks (39.31
percent) and buses (19.71 percent). High
growth of sugar is based on production of 73.9Million Tons of Sugarcane as compared to 65.5
million tons last year, which represents an
increase by 12.4 percent.
Large Scale Manufacturing growth has picked
up momentum and posted a strong 10.5 percent
growth in the month of March 2017 compared
to 7.6 percent in March 2016. The YoY growth
augurs well for further improvement in growth
during the period under review.
On average, the LSM growth stood at 5.06
percent during July-March FY 2017 compared
to 4.6 percent in the same period last year. The
sectors recording positive growth during JulMar
FY 2017 are textile 0.78 percent, food and
beverages 9.65 percent, pharmaceuticals 8.74
percent, non-metallic minerals 7.11 percent,
cement 7.19 percent, automobiles 11.31
percent, iron & steel 16.58 percent, fertilizer
1.32 percent, electronics 15.24 percent, paper &
board 5.08 percent, engineering products 2.37
percent, and rubber products 0.04 percent.
Pakistan is bestowed with all kinds of resources
which also include minerals. Pakistan possesses
many industrial rocks, metallic and nonmetallic,
which have not yet been evaluated. In
the wake of the 18th Amendment, provinces
enjoy great freedom to explore and exploit the
natural resources located in their authority, with
the result that they are currently undertaking a
number of projects using their own resources,
or in collaboration with the federal government
or with donors to tap and develop these
resources.
The services sector recorded a growth of 5.98
percent and surpassed its target which was set
at 5.70 percent. Wholesale and retail trade
sector grew at a rate of 6.82 percent. The
growth in this sector is bolstered by the output
in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
The share of Agriculture, Manufacturing and
Imports in Wholesale and Retail Trade growth
is 18 percent, 54 percent and 15 percent
respectively. The Transport, Storage and
Communication sector grew at a rate of 3.94
percent. Finance and insurance activities show
an overall increase of 10.77 percent, mainly
because of rapid expansion of deposit formation
(15 percent) and demand for loans (11 percent).
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan presents new $50 billion #development-heavy #budget for FY 2017-18 - ABC News - http://abcn.ws/2s271CJ via @ABC

Pakistan's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar Friday presented a $50 billion development heavy budget that also promised a seven percent increase in military spending, a growth rate of near 6 per cent and an appeasement for farmers who protested ahead of the budget announcement, clashing with police who used tear gas to disperse them.

The budget offered Pakistan's farmers $6.8 billion in loans, as well as fuel and electricity subsidies.

In poor Pakistan the budget promised $1.15 billion in subsidies, mostly to reduce electricity and fuel costs. In his speech to Parliament Dar said the annual per capita income in Pakistan had increased from $1,334 to $1,629 over the last four years of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government. Tax collection which is notoriously low in Pakistan also increased nearly 80 percent in the same period, he said.

In addition to a seven percent increase in military spending, Pakistan's budget also gave every soldier a 10 percent salary hike for fighting terror. The defense budget was set at $9 billion compared to $8.4 billion last year.

Pakistan's defense budget is not open for debate by Parliament nor does it generally include pensions paid to military personnel. The cost of their pensions comes out of the current budget.

Pakistan has been in a protracted war against terrorists with most battles waged in the tribal regions that border Afghanistan.

Friday's budget was seen as business friendly, offering a 30 percent tax cut to the corporate sector. It also exempts industries from the country-wide rolling power cuts that afflict Pakistanis on a daily basis.

Of the $20 billion plus development budget, Dar said $1.8 billion will go toward financing projects linked to its multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor scheme that includes a vast array of joint ventures including roads and power plants.

Opposition politicians slammed the budget, with Asad Umar of the Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party saying it takes from the poor to give to the rich.

"Money is being snatched from the pockets of the poor and middle classes to enhance the wealth of the unproductive elite," Umar said in a statement.

In a country with a literacy rate of 69.5 per cent among men and 45.8 among women, according to the latest CIA country report, the education budget was set at $887 million, considerably less than the sums allocated for defense and development.

The health sector in Pakistan, often bemoaned by many Pakistanis as inadequate, was allocated $126 million according to the figures released by the government.

Pakistan's protesting famers timed their protest hours before Dar presented the budget for the next fiscal year before lawmakers on Friday.

Pakistani TV channels broadcast footage showing riot police dragging farmers away from the scene, as well as protesters throwing stones at the police.
Riaz Haq said…
THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > OPINION
Debunking myths on CPEC

By Ahsan IqbalPublished: May 25, 2017

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1418270/debunking-myths-cpec/

A pointless controversy was created on the Long Term Plan (LTP) by a recent article featured in a local English-language newspaper. The report published as ‘LTP’ in that article was an initial draft by the China Development Bank (CDB) and not a part of the agreed LTP. That article basically cherry-picked information from different sources to present a distorted picture of the LTP. The fact is that the government of Pakistan has prepared its own plan after multiple stages of consultation with provinces, federal ministries and their respective technical groups. The LTP has been prepared to develop Pakistan in line with the seven pillars of Vision 2025 which are predicated on the notion of inclusive and sustainable development. The main pillars of LTP are connectivity, energy, industries and industrial parks, agricultural development and poverty alleviation, tourism, cooperation in areas concerning people’s livelihood and financial cooperation. It was shared with the Chinese authorities following approval by the cabinet.

The Chinese side has given its approval in principle, however, its formal approval is expected by the end of this month, as our Chinese counterparts were occupied by the Belt Road Forum. As soon as we get the official approval from the Chinese side, we will put the LTP on the CPEC website.
One of the biggest myths propagated on CPEC is that Pakistan might become a colony/province of China. Any historian would tell you that colonialism and imperialism are legacies of countries of the global north. China has never invaded any country nor harboured any imperial designs. Cynics point out towards rising trade deficit with China as a reason to show concern on CPEC. The reality is that China’s competitiveness in exports is universal and not idiosyncratic to Pakistan. Pakistan’s current trade deficit with China is $6.2 billion. In comparison, India’s trade deficit with China stands at $47 billion. The US trade deficit with China is $347 billion. Based on these trade deficit numbers, is it appropriate to infer that the US or India are becoming colonies/provinces of China? Certainly not. Similarly, it is ludicrous to make such claims about the Pakistan-China relationship. Both countries respect the sovereignty of each other and CPEC is based on the shared vision of both countries: Vision 2025 and OBOR.

At present, only a few thousand Chinese nationals are living in Pakistan and making a positive contribution towards our economy, the majority of them fall in the category of temporary labour migrants who will return back upon completion of the projects. In contrast, around 8 million Chinese are living in Malaysia, 400,000 in France; 600,000 in Japan; 900,000 in Canada and over 2.5 million are living in the US. Therefore, to say that Chinese are overtaking Pakistani society is nothing but a farce. Chinese nationals working in Pakistan are our national guests as they are helping us to build a developed Pakistan.

Another myth spread on CPEC is that China is dictating terms to Pakistan and the federal government is not consulting the provinces. The reality is quite the opposite. China and Pakistan work jointly in making an overall planning for a unified development of CPEC projects. In this regard, the Long Term Plan, Transport Monographic Study and respective MoUs guide the policy for CPEC.

All provinces have been consulted and invited to all meetings within Pakistan and abroad for their recommendations and review of CPEC projects. Earlier this month, the chief ministers of all four provinces under the leadership of PM Sharif attended OBOR Summit in China. On 29th December 2016, all CMs participated in the 6th JCC meeting which was held in Beijing.

Since the signing of the MoU in July 2013, six meetings of the JCC have been held. The highest officials of every provincial government are represented in JCC meetings.
Riaz Haq said…
Cambodia, Sri Lanka and the China debt trap


http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2017/03/18/cambodia-sri-lanka-and-the-china-debt-trap/


Sri Lanka’s growing economic engagement with China has also generated concern among scholars and policymakers. One side of the argument posits that China has made a positive contribution to the economic growth of Sri Lanka. China has provided Sri Lanka with over US$5 billion between 1971 and 2012. Most of this has gone into infrastructure development, with China investing US$1 billion into a deep-water port at Hambantota and billions into the Mattala Airport, a new railway and the Colombo Port City Project.

As a small country emerging from civil war, infrastructure is crucial in facilitating Sri Lanka’s trade and foreign investment sectors. The World Bank forecasts that Sri Lanka’s GDP growth is likely to grow from 3.9 per cent in 2016 to around 5 per cent in 2017.

Yet opponents see flaws in the China–Sri Lanka bilateral relationship. First, Sri Lanka has borrowed billions of dollars from China in order to build domestic infrastructure. Sri Lanka’s estimated national debt is US$64.9 billion, of which US$8 billion is owed to China. This can be attributed to the high interest rate on Chinese loans. For the Hambantota Port project, Sri Lanka borrowed US$301 million from China with an interest rate of 6.3 per cent, while the interest rates on soft loans from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are only 0.25–3 per cent. Sri Lanka is very deep in a debt crisis or ‘debt trap’ as some scholars describe it.

Second, Sri Lanka is currently unable to pay off its debt to China because of its slow economic growth. To resolve its debt crisis, the Sri Lankan government has agreed to convert its debt into equity. But the recent Sri Lankan decision allowing Chinese firms 80 per cent of the total share and a 99 year lease of Hambantota port caused public outrage and violent protests in Sri Lanka. In addition, Chinese firms have been given operating and managing control of Mattala Airport, built by Chinese loans of US$300–400 million, because the Sri Lankan government is unable to bear the annual expenses of US$100–200 million.

According to Brookings Institute visiting fellow Kadira Pethiyagoda, having access to the Hambantota port and Mattala airport provides Beijing with a strategic military position in the event of an Indian Ocean conflict and is also key for its ‘Belt and Road’ initiative. The growing Chinese influence may also compel Sri Lanka to support China’s position on the South China Sea dispute and ‘One China’ policy.
Riaz Haq said…
OBOR will spur growth in Asia, says UN official

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/interview/2017/05/17/one-belt-one-road-silk-road-cpec-will-spur-growth-in-asia-says-un-official-china-india-economy



A statement by the (Indian) Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) last week had said the OBOR would create “unsustainable debt burden for communities”. However, Sebastian Vergara, Economic Affairs Officer at the United Nations’ Department of Social and Economic Affairs (DESA), says the project would benefit Asia, in an interview with National Herald.

However, achieving productivity growth must be a government policy priority if India wants to continue to grow above 7%. India must encourage public private partnership (PPP) projects in key sectors, especially infrastructure. Business structural reforms should be vigorously pursued. The health of the public banking sector is a big worry for India, and the government needs to tackle the level of debt with sound policies.
Riaz Haq said…
Moody's: Pakistan shows strong growth and reduction in fiscal deficits

https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-Pakistan-shows-strong-growth-and-reduction-in-fiscal-deficits--PR_366262


New York, May 07, 2017 -- Strong growth performance, fiscal deficit reduction and improved inflation dynamics underpin the Government of Pakistan's B3 rating with a stable outlook, says Moody's Investors Service.

At the same time, credit challenges include a relatively high general government debt burden, weak physical and social infrastructure, a fragile external payments position, and high political risk. In particular, the government's very narrow revenue base weighs on debt affordability. Meanwhile, exports and remittance inflows have slowed and capital goods imports have risen, resulting in renewed pressure on the external account.

Moody's conclusions are contained in its annual credit analysis of Pakistan, "Government of Pakistan -- B3 Stable". The analytical factors that are used in its Sovereign Bond Rating Methodology are: economic strength, which is assessed as "moderate"; institutional strength "very low (+)"; fiscal strength "very low (-)"; and susceptibility to event risk "high".

Moody's notes that prospects for growth have improved following Pakistan's successful completion of its three-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September 2016 and the launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project in 2015.

Moody's notes that the implementation of the CPEC project has the potential to transform the Pakistani economy by relieving infrastructure bottlenecks, and stimulating both foreign and domestic investment. However, headwinds to further fiscal consolidation and renewed pressure on the external account present downside risks to the rating.

"Since 2013, implementation of economic reforms and increased foreign investment flows have contributed to macroeconomic stability and higher GDP growth. However, government debt remains elevated and pressure on the external account continues. " said William Foster, a Vice President and Senior Credit Officer at Moody's.

The stable outlook represents balanced upside and downside risks to the sovereign credit profile. Support from multilateral and bilateral lenders has bolstered Pakistan's foreign currency reserves and fostered progress on economic reforms. Meanwhile, implementation of the CPEC project has the potential to transform the Pakistani economy by relieving infrastructure bottlenecks, and stimulating both foreign and domestic investment. However, headwinds to further fiscal consolidation and renewed pressure on the external account present downside risks to the rating.

Upward triggers to the rating would stem from sustained progress in structural reforms that would significantly reduce infrastructure impediments and supply-side bottlenecks. This would improve Pakistan's investment environment and eventually aid a shift to a sustained higher growth trajectory. A fundamental strengthening in the external liquidity position and meaningful reduction in the government deficit and debt burden would also be credit positive.

Conversely, Moody's would view a stalling of the government's post-IMF program economic reform agenda, material widening of the fiscal deficit, a deterioration in the external payments position, withdrawal of multilateral and bilateral support, or a more unstable political environment as credit negative.
Riaz Haq said…
Why #India's zombie #debt imperils #Modi's plans? McKinsey: #Indian bank's bad #loans exceed #assets https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-30/why-india-s-zombie-debt-imperils-modi-s-plans-quicktake-q-a … via @bpolitics

The economy in India is growing faster than just about anywhere else. But there’s a threat to that expansion, one that the authorities are struggling to address: the mountain of bad debt at the nation’s banks. Those soured loans have contributed to a $191 billion pile of zombie debt that’s cast the future of some lenders in doubt and curbed investment by businesses. In the latest push for a solution, the central bank has been handed extra powers over lenders.

1. How big is the problem?

The amount of stressed assets at India’s state banks exceeds the value of the banks themselves, according to a McKinsey & Co. report. Provisions made for bad debt by all banks -- private and state -- undershoot by $93 billion the total of stressed assets (which mostly are bad loans and restructured loans). As McKinsey put it, “as these stressed assets continue to turn bad, the entire equity base of the banks could be at risk.”

2. How’s this impacting the economy?

Credit growth in Asia’s third-largest economy has dropped to a 25-year low. In other words, the quantity of new loans that over-leveraged businesses are willing to take and that under-provisioned banks are willing to give, is slowing. Investment by private companies actually started to shrink in the year through March and will, by the government’s estimate, contract by more than 7 percent this financial year. That’s threatening to derail Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-vaunted economic plans.

3. Why is India growing so fast then?

It’s true, India’s gross domestic product is forecast to expand about 7 percent this year, the fastest rate among the world’s major economies. (Although some question the numbers.) Unlike in the U.S., where the pre-financial crisis boom was fueled by housing, India was plowing its money into productive assets such as power plants. That’s allowed the $2 trillion economy to prosper even as the banking sector got bogged down. Extra government spending has also cushioned the impact of that declining private investment.

4. How did the debt problem arise?

Among the reasons for the surge in bad loans: a slump in commodity prices, a lack of appropriate legislation and regulation and a rapid buildup of excess capacity in industries such as telecoms and cement. Four industries account for nearly 80 percent of stressed assets: power, steel, textiles and engineering/procurement/construction. About 70 percent of the bad debt is held by state-owned lenders, the legacy of an investment spree that soured after the financial crisis.
Riaz Haq said…
#Ramadan #power outages in #Pakistan pile pressure on PM #NawazSharif. #loadshedding #electricity https://www.ft.com/content/bee89ccc-4458-11e7-8519-9f94ee97d996 … via @FT


Nawaz Sharif has ordered power companies not to cut electricity supplies in the hours before or after the daily Ramadan fast, as outages in the first few days of the Muslim holy month threaten to embroil Pakistan’s prime minister in a political crisis.

As the fasting period began on Sunday, residents of Karachi, the country’s largest city, were unexpectedly plunged into darkness. The national distribution company blamed a line fault that caused two power stations to fail.

But the outage has highlighted the fragility of Pakistan’s electricity network — a problem that threatens to undermine the country’s economic recovery and which is set to become a significant political issue in the run-up to next year’s general election.

Recent power cuts have already prompted widespread protests, during which two people reportedly died.

“These power cuts in Ramadan will severely undermine the government’s reputation further,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political commentator. “If the government fails to manage the electricity situation, the risks for Nawaz Sharif will mount.”




Pakistan has endured an energy shortfall for years, but this summer the gap between supply and demand at peak hours has reached six gigawatts — equivalent to the output of 12 medium-sized coal-fired power stations.

Ministers hope that $35bn of Chinese investment in the country’s power sector, part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, will help close the gap.

Unscheduled cuts during Ramadan have particularly angered residents. During the month, Muslims fast during daylight hours, putting extra importance on having power to cook just before dawn and just after dusk.

Usually the government keeps the lights on during religious festivals by paying independent companies to restart expensive mothballed power plants. But it has not done so this year because Ramadan has fallen close to the end of the financial year and the government does not want to exacerbate the fiscal deficit just before it reports its final figures, according to analysts.

The power crisis threatens to undermine Pakistan’s improving economic growth, which has been boosted by a few years of relative political stability. Figures released last week alongside the budget show annual output growth for the year to the end of June are projected to exceed 5 per cent for the first time in a decade.

The other factor that might threaten economic stability is Pakistan’s increasing current account deficit, which is depleting its stock of foreign currency, analysts warn.

Last week’s data show that alongside faster growth, the current account deficit is projected to more than treble from $2.5bn in the last fiscal year to $8.3bn this yearas Pakistan begins to pay Chinese companies for work carried out as part of the CPEC project.

Abid Hasan, a former World Bank economist who has worked in Pakistan, said: “The higher current account deficit will eventually turn into a crisis. This situation has to be managed before it gets out of control.”

But the solutions — whether allowing the rupee to devalue to boost exports or making people pay their electricity bills — are politically unpalatable just a year away from a general election, say officials and analysts. “Reforming Pakistan is tough business,” said one western diplomat.

Riaz Haq said…
THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > OPINION
CPEC: calling the shots

By Yasir MasoodPublished: June 2, 2017


https://tribune.com.pk/story/1425075/cpec-calling-shots/


To counter the nefarious narratives of the critics against CPEC, let’s first understand that the inflow of the funds from China, now estimated to be $62 billion: (a) $36 billion as Chinese investment in power projects which will add up 7,000-11,000 MW to the national grid by 2018. This sum will have no direct financial implications on Pakistan’s external payment obligations and; (b) $26 billion in a Chinese government loan, dedicated to building infrastructure. Since the inflow of funds as loans and FDI has dissimilar financial implications; therefore, a separate evaluation is direly needed to compute some of the major benefits as under.

Pakistan’s economy has severely suffered because of the energy crisis over the last decade or so. A much-needed uptick in power generation under CPEC will help revitalise the worst-affected industrial sectors. And particularly the cotton textile production and apparel manufacturing, which are the country’s largest industries, accounting for about 66 per cent of the merchandise exports and almost 40 per cent of the employed labour force. It will also help rejuvenate the remotely located cottage industry, small size manufacturing, agriculture and mining industry businesses to become commercially viable and contribute its due share of the GDP, on the one hand, and create more job opportunities in the far-flung areas on the other.

It is a misgiving that the Chinese power companies would be availing higher tariff rates. The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has not mentioned any such concessions or exemptions and has to act according to its jurisdiction to maintain uniformity. Similarly, other regulatory bodies will also look after the environmental hazards, avert abuse of dominant positions, ensure recovery of other levies, implementation of labour laws, and above all, the vibrant and robust courts can swiftly act to protect the constitutional rights of the general public as per laws of the land.

The second part, which will be an interest-bearing loan, that constitutes about 40 per cent of the total $62 billion chunk under the CPEC framework will not overburden Pakistan’s ballooning current and future foreign payment liabilities, as dreaded by some critics unfamiliar with repayment dynamics. Pakistan has been borrowing from the IMF at an interest rate ranging from 5 to 10 per cent just to avert the default on external payments in time. Whereas CPEC loan will be carrying an aggregate interest rate of not more than 1.9 per cent per annum and even below, repayable in a period stretched over 25-30 years and even more.

Reimbursement of the loan with markup, which is estimated to be around $1.5 billion per annum, will start in 2019 and after gradual increase would remain within the range of $4.5 to $5 billion even in the peak years. This additional burden on account of CPEC’s loan would be quite nominal when compared with its eventual upshots — briefly calculated below.

Pakistan’s existing transportation network is quite dilapidated and causing a huge loss of around 3.5 per cent of the country’s annual GDP as estimated by the government. According to the IMF, Pakistan’s total GDP in 2016 was around $285.153 billion of which 3.5 per cent amounts to $9.98 billion. Improvement in the transportation network under CPEC will considerably cut down such losses, thereby reducing Pakistan’s oil import bill and related transport equipment. Similarly, Pakistan’s national exchequer will be earning around $6 to $8 billion a year under toll tax revenue, etc.

Put together, the above two explained sources of income and savings alone will be substantially higher, when matched with the disbursement of loan and debt service liability to China and that too insignificantly spread over a period of 25-30 years and even more.
Riaz Haq said…
Keeping the lights on in Pakistan will drive growth, save lives by Afshin Molavi

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1110696

Last week, Pakistan achieved a quiet milestone, returning to the prestigious MSCI Emerging Markets Index after losing its status in 2008. Joining 23 other countries on the index, from high-growth Asian economies to large Latin American and rising Eastern European ones, Pakistan has now returned to the “premier league” of emerging markets.

Long-term, this will mean a steady flow of global capital entering Pakistan’s equities markets. It will also offer a confidence boost for foreign investors. But Pakistanis can be forgiven if they are hardly in a mood to celebrate, as widespread electricity shortages wrack the country once again.

Peshawar residents face cuts of six to eight hours per day, and violent protests broke out in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over the cuts, leaving at least two dead. Even the commercial metropolis of Karachi has not been spared, losing electricity in several parts of the city last week, prompting protests.

Electricity shortages are bad enough under normal circumstances, but during the holy month of Ramadan — when stomachs are growling, and the need for electricity to cook food ahead of the breaking of the fast becomes even more urgent — it becomes a combustible mix.

For Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the electricity shortages present a serious embarrassment for a leader who placed the issue at the center of his election campaign in 2013. Whether or not Pakistan can keep the lights on could determine his future as prime minister.

Enter China. One of the most impactful elements of the much-vaunted, multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be Beijing’s investments in Pakistan energy projects. Last month, Pakistan inaugurated a Chinese-financed, coal-fired power plant in Punjab, completed after 22 months of work, while announcing the launch of a plant in electricity-starved Baluchistan province.

From wind and solar to coal and hydro, China’s energy projects across Pakistan are dizzying in scope and potentially transformative to the future of the South Asian country of some 200 million people. According to the CPEC website, there are at least 18 active projects in various stages of development.

As with all projects, some will materialize and be delivered on time, others will be delayed or fall off the map, but even if China delivers on half of the proposed projects, Pakistan’s future will be, well, brighter.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the direct causal link between access to energy and economic growth. Economists need not have spent so much time constructing graphs and testing the thesis. It is common sense. Imagine an industrial revolution without regular access to energy?

Pakistan has become something of a darling in the emerging-markets investment community of late. Pakistan’s Global X MSCI exchange traded index was up 18 percent over the past 12 months, though it took a sharp dive after officially entering the MSCI Index last week. It seems traders had been buying the rumor, so to speak, and sold the fact.

Over the past three years, Pakistan has issued a successful Eurobond as well as sukuk bonds, heavily oversubscribed by yield-hungry international investors betting on the Pakistan growth story. The World Bank projects a healthy 5.2 percent growth rate for 2017.

Moreover, consumer companies are harvesting growth by targeting the country’s rising middle class. Former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, Ishrat Husain, told me that companies such as Nestle and Proctor & Gamble are seeing impressive 25-percent rates of return. Some investment strategists are even touting a new post-BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) acronym: VARP (Vietnam, Argentina, Romania and Pakistan).
Riaz Haq said…
Financing burden of CPEC
Ishrat Husain

https://www.dawn.com/news/1313992

The total committed amount under CPEC of $50 billion is divided into two broad categories: $35bn is allocated for energy projects while $15bn is for infrastructure, Gwadar development, industrial zones and mass transit schemes. The entire portfolio is to be completed by 2030.

------

The entire energy portfolio will be executed in the IPP mode —as applied to all private power producers in the country. Foreign investors’ financing comes under foreign direct investment; they are guaranteed a 17pc rate of return in dollar terms on their equity (only the equity portion, and not the entire project cost). The loans would be taken by Chinese companies, mainly from the China Development Bank and China Exim Bank, against their own balance sheets. They would service the debt from their own earnings without any obligation on the part of the Pakistani government.

Import of equipment and services from China for the projects would be shown under the current account, while the corresponding financing item would be FDI brought in by the Chinese under the capital and finance account. Therefore, where the balance of payments is concerned, there will not be any future liabilities for Pakistan.

To the extent that local material and services are used, a portion of free foreign exchange from the FDI inflows would become available. (Project sponsors would get the equivalent in rupees). For example, a highly conservative estimate is that only one-fourth of the total project cost would be spent locally and the country would benefit from an inflow of $9bn over an eight-year period, augmenting the aggregate FDI by more than $1bn annually. This amount can be used to either finance the current account deficit or reduce external borrowing requirements. Inflows for infrastructure projects for local spending would be another $4bn over 15 years.

Taking a highly generous capital structure of 60:40 debt-to-equity ratio for energy projects, the total equity investment would be $14bn. Further, assuming the extreme case that the entire equity would be financed by Chinese companies (although this is not true in the case of Hubco and Engro projects, where equity and loans are being shared by both Pakistani and Chinese partner companies) the 17pc guaranteed return on these projects would entail annual payments of $2.4bn from the current account.

CPEC’s second component, ie infrastructure, is to be financed through government-to-government loans amounting to $15bn. As announced, these loans would be concessional with 2pc interest to be repaid over a 20- to 25-year period. This amount’s debt servicing would be the Pakistan government’s obligation. Debt-servicing payments would rise by $910 million annually on account of CPEC loans (assuming a 20-year tenor). Going by these calculations, we can surmise that the additional burden on the external account should not exceed $3.5bn annually on a staggered basis depending on the project completion schedule.

As a proportion of our total foreign exchange earnings of 2016, this amounts to 7pc. These calculations do not take into account the incremental gains from GDP growth that will rise because of investment in energy and infrastructure. As the loan amounts would be disbursed in the next 15 years and repayments would be staggered, the adding of the entire $15bn to the existing stock of external debt and liabilities is not an accurate representation. The more realistic approach would be a tapered schedule, with $2bn to $3bn getting disbursed in the earlier years and slowing down in the second half.
Riaz Haq said…
In Pakistan, China presses built-in advantage for 'Silk Road' contracts

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-pakistan-insight-idUSKBN19503Y

By Drazen Jorgic | ISLAMABAD
Last year, Pakistan held informal talks with General Electric, Siemens and Switzerland's ABB to build the country's first high-voltage transmission line. Chinese power giant State Grid committed to building the $1.7 billion project in half the time of its European counterparts – and clinched the deal.

This is a familiar tale in Pakistan and many other countries.


-------------

As China makes its "Belt and Road" initiative – a massive project to connect Asia with Africa and Europe through land and maritime routes – a policy priority for the next decade, Chinese companies are taking the lion's share of infrastructure projects across the region.

Just last year, Chinese firms won project contracts in Belt and Road countries worth $126 billion, state media reported.

In Pakistan, whose geographical position makes it central to Beijing's "Silk Road" plans, contracts have been awarded for projects worth more than $28 billion – all by Chinese companies working together with local firms. More than $20 billion in new investment is likely in the next few years, Pakistan's Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal told Reuters this week.

Last month, Pakistan's government took out full-page newspaper advertisements on the first China-Pakistan project completed under the plan, a 1,300 mw coal plant that it said was constructed in 22 months, a record time for such a facility. The plant is owned by China's state-owned Huaneng Shandong and the Shandong Ruyi Science & Technology Group.

-------------------------
But two officials at two Chinese state-owned banks that direct government funding, China Development Bank (CDB) and Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM), told Reuters that they have been instructed by the government to favor lending to Chinese firms for Silk Road projects.

The officials also said that the two banks prefer that companies working on infrastructure projects across the region import raw materials or purchase equipment from China.

There is some criticism in Pakistan that the awarding of the contracts to Chinese companies – while speeding up projects – is also costing the country more money.

In the transmission line project deal, for example, General Electric estimated it could make one key part of the line – the converter stations – for about 25 percent less than what State Grid was charging, according to a Pakistani government official and two power sources familiar with GE's projections. By awarding the contract to State Grid, Islamabad paid a higher price, they said.

An official at Nepra, Pakistan's independent energy regulator, said State Grid was also given a tax break not on offer to other investors.

Pakistani government officials declined to comment on tax issues regarding the deal.

China Electric Power Technologies Company Limited (CET), the State Grid subsidiary that will build the line, said the price it asked for was fair. "It's a very reasonable cost," said Fiaz Ahmad Chaudhry, managing director of Pakistan's National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) referring to the overall State Grid contract.

----------------

POWER LINES

The transmission line project was conceived as a government-to-government contract to build a 878-km (545-mile) connection between soon-to-built power plants near the coastal town of Matiari and Pakistan's industrial heartland by the eastern city of Lahore.

According to Pakistani officials, no formal competitive bidding was sought for the project, which was finally awarded in December last year.
Riaz Haq said…
By some measures, the MDBs today are not only existing
but thriving, with demand for their financing and services
growing. But this picture belies a critical need for reinvention
if they are to rise to meet today’s pressing challenges effectively.
In particular, the legacy MDBs—the World Bank, the InterAmerican
Development Bank (IADB), Asian Development
Bank (AsDB), African Development Bank (AfDB), and European
Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)—
have been slow to adjust to many of today’s realities, starting
with the increasing economic role and growing capability of
their borrowers. For example, their major shareholders have
agreed to only minimal adjustments in corporate governance
systems and leadership selection, creating tensions with major
borrowers who want more voice and influence over their policies
and operations. With age, MDBs have become bogged
down in bureaucracy, increasing delays and raising costs to
borrowers, particularly for major infrastructure projects. Perhaps
in frustration, China and other major borrowers have
taken leadership in creating two new MDBs focused heavily
on infrastructure: the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
(AIIB) and the New Development Bank (NDB).

Beyond business-as-usual on
concessional financing. Shareholders should commit to
maintain current levels of concessional support across all
MDBs, implying at least $25 billion in concessional lending
annually over the next decade (and possibly more given
the possible additional amounts the AIIB might provide on
concessional terms). As a growing number of countries graduate
from concessional assistance to non-concessional borrowing
and other forms of engagement with MDBs, this baseline
commitment should allow for increased support in the remaining
poor countries, and for allocation of concessional funding
to countries in crisis and to post-conflict reconstruction,
especially at the World Bank (see Recommendation 4). In
addition, given the expected concentration of poor countries
in Sub-Saharan Africa, there should be a shift in concessional \

-------------

Why the slowness to adapt? One reason is that age and
bureaucratic growth have taken their toll, particularly at the
World Bank, where political pressures and the close scrutiny
of NGOs have affected its operations by making traditional
donors very—and perhaps excessively—risk averse to stories
of corruption, waste, human rights abuses, and environmental
injustices.10,11 In response to these pressures, the legacy MDBs
have gradually become burdened with a proliferation of rules
and processes that are meant to eliminate corruption and
safeguard legitimate aims such as environmental and social
protection, but that often fail to do so effectively or to serve
the institutions’ broader development mission. The result is
widespread borrower frustration with the hassle factor that
increases the costs and delays of major infrastructure projects.
Another reason is that adjustments in the legacy MDBs’
governance have been modest, with the largely western donor
“creditors” dominating the official governance arrangements.
Slow adjustments in governance, especially at the World
Bank, have frustrated the political ambitions of emerging
markets to assume greater leadership at the global level—
through increased capital participation, voting power, and
influence on these and other operational issues that affect
them as borrowers.
The initiative of China and other emerging markets to set
up their own institutions—the AIIB and the NDB—reflects
these two factors.

https://www.cgdev.org/sites/default/files/multilateral-development-banking-report-five-recommendations.pdf
Riaz Haq said…
China is staking a claim to supplanting the U.S. as a Pakistan’s most influential ally with tens of billions of dollars of investment, an embrace that promises Pakistan economic benefits and saddles it with debt—ensuring the relationship will last.

http://www.cetusnews.com/views/BklEbNyNXb?cat=news&title=China-Pushes-U.S.-Aside-in-Pakistan---
By
Saeed Shah



ISLAMABAD—Pakistan’s ruling power structure has long been summed up with the saying “Allah, Army and America.”
China is now staking a claim to supplanting the U.S. with tens of billions of dollars of investment, an embrace that promises Pakistan economic benefits and saddles it with debt—ensuring the relationship will last.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has made Pakistan his flagship partner in a program to spread Chinese-built infrastructure—and Beijing’s sway—across Asia and beyond. Pakistan has so far signed on to $55 billion in Chinese projects, many of them guaranteeing China a high return on its investments and granting tax breaks to Chinese companies.
Former President Barack Obama’s “Asia pivot” is giving way to Mr. Xi’s infrastructure juggernaut, in a model that could be replicated across the region.
“China came in when no one else was willing to invest,” said Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir. The U.S. missed its chance, he said.

Beijing calls its program “One Belt One Road,” referring to the ancient sea and land Silk Road trade routes that China seeks to revive. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the program’s first big completed project here in late May, a Chinese-built, coal-fired power plant in his home province of Punjab.
China is building roads, railways, power plants and a port, and has lent Pakistan $2 billion in under two years to shore up its foreign-exchange reserves.
A promised $1 trillion Chinese splurge hasn’t yet materialized for many countries. But in Pakistan, $18 billion in projects are under construction in what is known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The centerpiece is Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port at Gwadar, under expansion and run by a Chinese company to enable trade in goods from China’s southwest.
Pakistan calculates that the Chinese investments will add 2 percentage points to growth in the next few years by providing infrastructure needed to kick-start industrialization.
President Donald Trump has abandoned what was viewed by the Obama administration as a counterbalance to China, a trade deal with nations in the region called Trans Pacific Partnership. An American official said civilian aid to Pakistan, a longtime ally, remained substantial but “getting our message out is a challenge.”

--------

“We want to move away from geopolitics, to geoeconomics, from fighting wars for others,” said Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s planning minister, who oversees the Chinese investment. “Our vision is to place Pakistan as the hub of trade and commerce in this region.”
China’s expenditure isn’t aid. With transport projects, Pakistan incurs debt; power plants come with an obligation for Pakistan to purchase the electricity produced.
Tahir Mashhadi, a senator from the opposition Muttahida Qaumi Movement, compared China to the East India Company, the commercial enterprise that colonized India before the British government took over.
“Here’s the danger: the banks are Chinese. The money is Chinese. The expertise is Chinese. The management is Chinese. The profits are for China. The labor is Chinese,” said Mr. Mashhadi.
Nadeem Javaid, chief economist at Pakistan’s planning ministry, said Pakistan would be paying $5 billion a year to China by 2022, but that the debt should be easy to manage as Pakistani exports rise, electricity prices fall, and toll revenues are generated from trade from China to Gwadar.
“The fears,” he said, “are not genuine.”

Riaz Haq said…
From Spectator Index:

Govt debt as share of GDP

Japan: 250%
India: 70%
Pakistan: 66%
Vietnam: 62%
China: 46%
Thailand: 41%
Iran: 35%
Indonesia: 28%
Saudi: 13%

https://twitter.com/spectatorindex/status/879006278290472960
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s old economic vulnerabilities persist

Massive Chinese projects actually exacerbate some of them

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21724427-massive-chinese-projects-actually-exacerbate-some-them-pakistans-old-economic

On June 16th the IMF warned of re-emerging “vulnerabilities” in Pakistan’s economy. It praised GDP growth of above 5% a year, but noted missed fiscal targets and a ballooning current-account deficit. The fund’s own projections a year ago for the fiscal year ending this June underestimated this deficit by about half the final total of $9bn. And based on trends in early April it overestimated the fiscal-year-end foreign-exchange reserves by $3bn.

Independent economists point out that, many times before, collapse has come on the heels of an IMF programme’s conclusion. Sakib Sherani, a former government economist, says that to avoid “egg on its face” for cheerleading Pakistan’s economic recovery just months ago, the IMF is slowly changing its story. By the end of 2018, many predict, Pakistan will come begging again. The fund responds that it is “too early to speculate”.

Some of Pakistan’s faltering can be blamed on bad luck, such as a fall in remittances from workers in the Middle East. But mostly it was, as usual, bad policy. Like its predecessors, the PML-N has failed to enact the structural reforms needed to break Pakistan free of its cycle of crises. Barely any goals of the IMF’s programme were met. Bloated, underperforming or, in the case of Pakistan Steel Mills, closed-down publicly-owned enterprises drain millions from the government each month. “Circular” debt, caused by delayed payments along the electricity-generation chain, is swamping the energy sector once more.

Annual exports have declined by 20% in dollar terms since 2013, stymied by an overvalued currency. All this means the government is again borrowing hand over fistfrom local and foreign banks. In some cases the design of the IMF programme itself has added to Pakistan’s woes: by pushing for increased tax revenue above all else, it has allowed the government to clobber the poor with indirect taxes, milk the (few) direct taxpayers even further, and, as ever, ignore the wealthy elites.

-----------

The source of funds is changing even if government recklessness is not. China plans to invest $62bn in Pakistan for a range of projects, particularly power plants, around the 3,000km (1,875-mile) China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). That could lift Pakistan to more stable prosperity. But paying for the CPEC will not be easy. Unlike loans from the IMF or World Bank, some two-thirds of those taken out so far, for $28bn-worth of early projects, are on commercial terms, with interest high at around 7% a year. When these loans come due, argues Farooq Tirmizi, an emerging-markets analyst, Pakistan will need a bigger bail-out than ever before.

The IMF has concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding Pakistan’s CPEC debts and how it will repay them. Any future fund lending to the country may include conditions that sow discord between the country and its new patron. And with President Donald Trump in charge of America’s foreign policy, there is no guarantee that the old one, America, will prove as generous—in the event of a crisis—as it has in the past.

Riaz Haq said…
Here's another example of FUD against CPEC by Christine Fair:

ARGUMENT
Pakistan Can’t Afford China’s ‘Friendship’
Pakistan's elites think Chinese cash can save the country. They're wrong.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/03/pakistan-cant-afford-chinas-friendship/


In recent months, the Chinese-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has left Pakistanis emboldened, Indians angry, and U.S. analysts worried. Ostensibly, CPEC will connect Pakistan to China’s western Xinjiang province through the development of vast new transportation and energy infrastructure. The project is part of China’s much-hyped Belt and Road Initiative, a grand, increasingly vague geopolitical plan bridging Eurasia that China’s powerful President Xi Jinping has promoted heavily.

Pakistani and Chinese officials boast that CPEC will help address Pakistan’s electricity generation problem, bolster its road and rail networks, and shore up the economy through the construction of special economic zones. But these benefits are highly unlikely to materialize. The project is more inclined to leave Pakistan burdened with unserviceable debt while further exposing the fissures in its internal security.

-----------------

Despite the bold claims made by China and Pakistan, there are many reasons to be dubious about the purported promises of CPEC. There’s already violence all along the corridor. The north-most part of CPEC is the Karakoram Highway (KKH), which gashes through the Karakoram Mountain Range to connect Kashgar in Xinjiang with Pakistan’s troubled province of Gilgit-Baltistan. Xinjiang is in the throes of a slow-burning insurgency by the Muslim Uighur minority against the Communist state. Gilgit-Baltistan, a Shiite-majority polity under the thumb of a Sunni-dominated Pakistan, is part of the above-noted contested territory of Jammu-Kashmir. Here, geology and weather further limit CPEC. The Karakoram Highway, a narrow road weaving through perilous mountains, can’t bear heavy traffic. Expanding the KKH will not be easy. Residents of Gilgit-Baltistan worry about the environmental costs in relation to the few benefits they will enjoy. There have been episodic protests, which the Pakistani government has ruthlessly put down. Meanwhile, Gwador is experiencing a prolonged drought, frustrating the project while the four extant desalination plants remain idle.

In the south, CPEC is anchored to the port at Gwador in Pakistan’s insurgency-riven Balochistan province. The local Baloch people deeply resent the plan because it will fundamentally change the demography of the area. Before the expansion of Gwadar, the population of the area was 70,000. If the project comes to full fruition the population would be closer to 2 million — most of whom would be non-Baloch. Many poor Baloch have already been displaced from the area. Since construction has begun, there have been numerous attacks against Chinese personnel, among other workers.

There’s also the stubborn problem of economic competitiveness. For CPEC to be more competitive than the North-South Corridor that is rooted to the Iranian port of Chabahar, Gwador needs to offer a safer and shorter route from the Arabian Sea to Central Asia. For that to happen, Gwador needs to be connected by road to the Afghan Ring Road in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, which is under sustained attacks by the Afghan Taliban. Alternatively, a new route could connect Gwador with the border crossing at Torkham (near Peshawar) by traveling up Balochistan, with its own active ethnic insurgency, through or adjacent to Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which is the epicenter of Islamist terrorism and insurgency throughout Pakistan. It takes great faith — or idiocy, or greed, or all of the above — to believe that this is possible.
Riaz Haq said…
Clearly, the so-called stakeholders that include the US, the EU, Russia, India and Japan seem either not to have understood the $4 trillion venture across 69 countries meant presumably to project China’s strategic vision for global peace, won through mutually beneficial economic cooperation or they are so fearful of being swamped by its success that they want to stop it before it takes off.


https://tribune.com.pk/story/1443447/inclusive-economic-model/

A study of the Silk Road Economic Belt by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) has identified potential issues that may negate any benefits the initiative brings.

The study speculates that the Chinese will likely accept or reject projects based on whether they serve the needs of Chinese industry, rather than what they bring to the recipients.
It also suspects that political tensions between different countries may impede the smooth rollout of projects.

Local elites, the study further suspects, may corner the “spoils” from new projects, thereby exacerbating social tensions. It has also expressed fears that labour rights and environmental protection may not be given the attention they deserve.

Therefore, the study recommends that:

The EU put forward a joint consultative mechanism with China to ensure projects are implemented smoothly, by ensuring all stakeholders have a hand in planning and supervision. Official development assistance programmes in BRI recipient countries should, include assistance in project evaluation. Organisations such as the UNDP and the UN Economic and Social Commission (ESC) for Asia should advise recipient countries on the impact and viability of planned projects. BRI loans should not be allowed to breach the debt burden thresholds determined under the World Bank-IMF debt sustainability framework. And finally, the Belt and Road Initiative needs to attract private capital as there are around $8.5 trillion “sitting in cash, waiting for better investment opportunities”. Bringing in private capital would increase the scale of BRI, open it to non-Chinese companies and allow projects to be implemented more efficiently.

It was perhaps in this frame of mind that some of the delegates at the May Belt and Road Forum had called for a rules-based approach, sensitive to the developmental needs of recipient countries. The stakeholders such as the US, the EU, Russia, India and Japan, according to the study, need to coordinate among themselves and engage with China to promote more transparent partnerships.

Meanwhile, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) continues to bug India. Out of fear of being overwhelmed socio-economically by China’s Road and Belt Initiative (RBI) India seems to have decided to create problems for the initiative. To start with it has decided not to attend any events connected with the BRI Forum.

What India is most worried about, however, is a collection of infrastructure projects under the label of CPEC, currently under construction throughout Pakistan. It traverses territory which India considers to be disputed. China officially claims not to take sides in the Kashmir dispute, but India believes it has done so by finalising CPEC with Pakistan and ignoring India’s position. As well as compromising India’s territorial integrity, CPEC, in India’s view, is raising other concerns about BRI projects.

India’s version on Gwadar port: the seaport has been leased to China until 2059. Chinese companies are operating the port, developing a 1,000-hectare Special Economic Zone nearby, and building an international airport with a Chinese grant of $230 million. These actions are certainly not driven by altruism. They reflect the strategic value to China of access to the Arabian Sea and proximity to energy-rich West Asia. It should be no surprise that Chinese naval submarines have been spotted in Gwadar.
Riaz Haq said…
THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > BUSINESS
SEZs ‘to turn Pakistan into engine of growth’

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1450362/sezs-turn-pakistan-engine-growth/

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal assured that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will not harm domestic industries and interests of the local business community.

Addressing a meeting, held to review the development status of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) under CPEC, Iqbal instructed federal and provincial authorities to keep the business community in the loop about latest developments and policies. He also assured of their inclusion in the consultative process for policy formulation to protect indigenous industries.

“Chinese investment will augment our industrial capacity through state-of-the-art technology and expertise transfers, which will increase our productivity,” he remarked while putting emphasis on formation of joint ventures between local and Chinese manufacturers through increased business collaboration.

The minister updated participants on the status of several energy and infrastructure-related projects, promising increased trade and industrialisation in Pakistan once they are completed.

Highlighting the importance of SEZs, Iqbal said that the next stage of CPEC encompasses massive production in these zones leading to higher output and exports.

“Development of SEZs will play an important role in the future of CPEC by converting Pakistan into an engine of growth,” he stated while instructing officials to prepare comprehensive strategy papers to attract investments.

He also stressed on the importance of taking advantage of the ‘window of opportunity’ created by unprecedented foreign [Chinese] investments in the country

“A paradigm shift is taking place as the world passes through a fourth industrial revolution where automation and robotics are replacing relatively expensive manual labour.”

Pakistan needs to take advantage of its cheaper labour to overcome the technology gap while maintaining production levels, added the minister.

“Provincial governments also need to take concrete steps in order to make SEZs a success,” he said, adding that the country needs a robust industrial base to ensure sustainable economic development and creation of employment opportunities in view of the ballooning labour force.

Representatives from provincial governments and federal territories including FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan gave detailed briefings on the status of SEZs in their areas during the meeting.
Riaz Haq said…
Denigrating CPEC
As the CPEC early harvest projects near fruition, detractors are stepping up their propaganda to denigrate the mega project
http://dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/08-Jul-17/denigrating-cpec

As the early harvest projects of CPEC near fruition, detractors are stepping up their propaganda to denigrate the mega project. Christine Fair, of the Foreign Policy magazine has jumped into the fray to disparage CPEC. Christine Fair is an associate professor at the Centre for Peace and Security Studies (CPASS), within Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. Author of the 2014 book Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War has been criticized for her hawkish rhetoric, riddled with factual inaccuracies, lack of objectivity, and being selectively biased viewpoints. Her pro-drone stance has been denounced, and called "surprisingly weak" by Brookings Institution senior fellow Shadi Hamid. Journalist Glenn Greenwald dismissed Fair’s arguments as "rank propaganda", arguing there is "mountains of evidence" showing drones are counterproductive, pointing to mass civilian casualties and independent studies. Fair’s journalistic sources have been questioned for their credibility and she has been accused of having a conflict of interest due to her past work with U.S. government think tanks, as well the CIA. She has also been rebuked for comments on social media perceived as provocative, such as suggesting burning down Pakistan’s embassy in Afghanistan or asking India to "squash Pakistan militarily, diplomatically, politically and economically." She has been accused of double standards, partisanship towards India, and has been criticized for her contacts with dissident leaders from Balochistan; a link which "raises serious questions if her interest in Pakistan is merely academic."

China constructed the Karakoram Highway across Gilgit Baltistan in 1974. For forty years, the Indian government found no cause for concern, but is now suddenly raising alarm bells with the advent of CPEC
In her latest Op-Ed titled ‘Pakistan can’t afford China’s friendship’ carried by Foreign Policy issue of July 3, 2017, Ms Fair plays to the Indian gallery by claiming that Pakistan has been emboldened by the CPEC to take on India.

Firstly, she conveniently remains oblivious to the fact that India has upped the ante in Occupied Kashmir by killing more than 200 Kashmiri youth and blinding 3,500 children by firing pellet guns at their eyes. To hide its own atrocities against the hapless Kashmiris, India is incessantly violating the ceasefire agreement across the LOC and killing innocent civilians besides staging fake encounters to malign Pakistan. Indian government has formally protested to the Chinese leadership that portions of CPEC traverse through Azad Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, which are disputed territory. Chinese government has responded that CPEC is an economic project and not a strategic one. Moreover, China has invited India to become a part of CPEC to benefit from the mega project as well as address its grievances or misgivings.

The fact is that China constructed the Karakoram Highway across Gilgit Baltistan in 1974. For forty years, the Indian government found no cause for concern, but is now suddenly raising alarm bells with the advent of CPEC.
Riaz Haq said…
#Harvard #HKS Center for International Development forecasts #Pakistan’s #GDP growth to average 5.97% until 2025

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1452332/pakistans-gdp-growth-rate-even-higher-china-harvard-study/

http://atlas.cid.harvard.edu/rankings/growth-predictions/

Pakistan’s predicted annual growth rate over the next 10 years is nearly 6 per cent, according to the revised growth projections presented by researchers at the Centre for International Development (CID) at the Harvard University.

This is a one-point GDP increase as in the CID’s earlier projections, Pakistan GDP was set to grow at 5 per cent by 2025.

Although China’s huge economy (current GDP at $12 trillion) cannot be compared with that of Pakistan (current GDP at $300 billion), Pakistan’s 5.97 per cent growth rate is above that of China, which is set to grow by 4.41 per cent.


Led by Harvard Kennedy School, the research is called ‘The Atlas of Economic Complexity’.

The CID’s growth projections are based on the measures of each country’s economic complexity, which captures the diversity and sophistication of the productive capabilities embedded in its exports and the ease with which it could further diversify by expanding those capabilities.

According to the Harvard study, the economic complexity not only describes why countries are rich or poor today, but can also predict future growth — about five times more accurately than the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index.

Pakistan’s neighbour India, on the other hand, is predicted to grow by 7.72 per cent, the world’s highest. The CID believes that the economic pole of global growth has moved over the past few years from China to neighbouring India and it is likely to stay there over the coming decade.

Except for India, Pakistan will beat all Asian economies in GDP growth. These also include giant Muslim economies.

Here are some regional countries (and their GDP growth) Pakistan will be ahead of:

Muslim and South Asian countries:

Indonesia 5.82 per cent

Turkey 5.64 per cent

Malaysia 4.82 per cent

Sri Lanka 3.77 per cent

Saudi Arabia 3.17 per cent

Bangladesh 2.82 per cent

UAE 2.41 per cent

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries:

Tajikistan 3.61 per cent

Uzbekistan 3.32 per cent

Kazakhstan 2.65 per cent

Kyrgyzstan 5.77 per cent

Russia 2.60 per cent

According to the Harvard study, the central reason for income differences is know-how. Poor countries produce few goods that many countries can make because of the lack of know-how, while rich countries produce a greater diversity of goods, including products that few other countries can make.

Harvard’s leading research hub uses this fact to measure the amount of the know-how that is held in each economy.

A major trend that emerges from Harvard’s report is that the growth in emerging markets is predicted to continue to outpace that of advanced economies, though not uniformly.

Pakistan’s GDP growth expected at 4.9%: Moody’s

In addition to Pakistan, the CID projections are also optimistic about new growth hubs in East Africa and new segments of Southeast Asia, led by Indonesia and Vietnam. it also notes that economies based on commodity output face slower growth rates as commodity prices continue to remain under pressure.

With special economic zones (SEZs) being built under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, it is an opportunity for Pakistan to move away from commodity output by producing value-added goods in joint ventures with Chinese firms and increase its exports. This way, Pakistan can have even faster income growth.

The Harvard growth projections are in line with other short, medium and long-term GDP growth forecasts for Pakistan.

HSBC: 5 per cent leading to 2050

IMF: 5.5 per cent leading to 2020

The World Bank: 5.8 per cent leading to 2019

The Economist: 5.7 per cent in 2017


Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan Sees Bigger #LNG Profile; Imports to Surge From 4.5 Million Tons in 2016 to 30 Million Tons by 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2017/07/10/business/10reuters-pakistan-lng-exclusive.html

Pakistan says it could become one of the world's top-five buyers of liquefied natural gas (LNG), with Petroleum Minister Shahid Abbasi predicting imports could jump more than fivefold as private companies build new LNG terminals.

Outlining Pakistan's ambitious plans - which, if fully implemented, could shake up the global LNG market - Abbasi told Reuters that imports could top 30 million tonnes by 2022, up from just 4.5 million tonnes currently.

Cheaper than fuel oil and cleaner burning than coal, LNG suits emerging economies seeking to bridge electricity shortfalls and support growth on tight budgets.

(For a graphic on LNG market share by region click http://reut.rs/2uGUu9X)

"Within five years, I don't see any reason why we should not be beyond 30 million tonnes (in annual LNG imports). We will be one of the top five markets in the world," Abbasi said.

That kind of jump would represent one of the fastest growth stories in the energy industry, comparable to what China has done in many commodities - but there are doubts whether Pakistan can achieve its ambitions, given the complexity and cost of expansion projects.

"It's always possible, but seems very difficult as they will need much more (regasification) capacity and downstream pipeline capacity," said Trevor Sikorski at Energy Aspects, a London-based industry market researcher. "There are infrastructural issues and financial issues."

"Still, it is one of the key LNG growth markets, and its demand will help tighten up the market that has threatened to lurch into over supply."

Abbasi said no one took Pakistan seriously after a decade of botched attempts to bring LNG to the country, but this has changed with the construction of new LNG terminals and gas plants. He said foreign suppliers are now arriving in Pakistan - where energy shortages have prompted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to promise he'll end the country's frequent blackouts.

"Before, we used to go out to talk to LNG suppliers. Now they're coming to us," Abbasi said.

"(LNG) is really what has saved the whole energy system. It has been a huge success in Pakistan and it will continue," he said after Sharif on Friday inaugurated a new Chinese-built LNG power plant that uses General Electric turbines.

GETTING CONNECTED

Pakistan built its first LNG terminal in 2015 and, after some delays, a second terminal is due to come online in October, doubling annual import capacity to about 9 million tonnes.

A consortium of Exxon Mobil, Total, Mitsubishi, Qatar Petroleum and Norway's Hoegh is expected to decide by September whether to build a third LNG terminal for about $700 million, Abbasi said.

Pakistan has dropped plans to finance up to two more terminals, as private companies have said they would finance these themselves and use Pakistan's existing gas network to sell directly to consumers.

"That's been the real success and that's where the growth will come from," Abbasi said, adding that about 10 million homes are linked to gas connections in Pakistan - a nation of around 200 million.

"In the last four years, we would have added two million additional connections. We are really ramping that up."

If Pakistan achieves its ambitious development goals, it could significantly erode market oversupply, which has helped pull down Asian LNG spot prices by more than 70 percent since 2014 to around $5 per million British thermal units (mmBtu).
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani universities must capitalise on Chinese investment
The $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a huge opportunity to build academic capacity in Pakistan, say Abdur Rehman Cheema and Muhammad Haris

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/opinion/pakistani-universities-must-capitalise-on-chinese-investment#survey-answer

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) unveiled by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2013, is frequently referred to in Pakistan as a potential economic game changer. Now in its first phase of implementation, it will see the Chinese government pump more than $50 billion (£40 billion) into improving transport links and energy cooperation between China and Pakistan.

Hardly any attention has been paid, however, to how this opportunity might be leveraged to build the technological capacity of Pakistan’s universities. And, so far, academics have been conspicuous by their absence from those clamouring for a share of the pie.

There is no question that universities have a lot to offer in terms of economic development. Introduced in the late 1990s, the Triple Helix concept of university-industry-government relationships has transformed the social role of higher education in many developing countries, casting them as central to the transition to a knowledge-based society, whose policies all three players combine to shape. Although it is not easy to implement in countries that lack research universities or global businesses, studies suggest that the approach generally leads to greater scientific productivity, for instance.

Pakistani universities need to capitalise on China’s own desire to shift itself from a symbol of mass production to a knowledge-based economy. They need to align their strategies with Chinese companies’ existing strengths in information technology, railways, manufacturing and energy. And they need to approach both Chinese firms and the Pakistani government to identify the technical skills areas in which the demand for workers can be expected to rise, and implement new diplomas and short courses accordingly.

Networking is also an important tool that can help bring the spheres of government, industry and the academy together. Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission, which regulates all of its universities, should take the lead and help to start this conversation within universities and research centres, incentivising their interaction with existing firms, as well as establishing incubation facilities for new ones on university campuses, including granting them shared access to university facilities.

CPEC also offers an opportunity to address Pakistan’s rampant inequality. In the country’s poorest province, Balochistan, the federal government could help local politicians and tertiary education providers to set up inclusive business incubation centres charged with developing customised, socially useful entrepreneurial approaches. Drawing on the Chinese experience of poverty reduction, such measures could start to build skilled human resources able to contribute to local and national economic development.

For example, developing local expertise in processing copper – which is mined in Balochistan – could help Pakistan to save the cost of importing the metal after the ore is exported to China for refinement.

The Balochistani port of Gwadar, a gateway to the Middle-Eastern and African markets, is one of the nodes of CPEC and will be connected by new road and rail links to the far western Chinese city of Kashgar, in Xinjiang Province. This offers many business opportunities for Pakistani and international businesses, and local universities could both catalyse and benefit from this if they set up business research excellence centres aimed at helping to improve the quality of the goods and services to be exported.
Riaz Haq said…
We’ll make #CPEC a success, come what may: #Pakistan Army Chief Gen Bajwa. #China

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1456715/well-make-cpec-success-come-may-coas/

General Qamar Javed Bajwa reiterated on Wednesday the determination of the army and other law enforcement agencies to provide fool-proof security to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) calling the multibillion-dollar project ‘harbinger of peace and prosperity’ in the region.

“While the army will provide security to the project [CPEC], the other national institutions will have to come forward and play their respective roles,” he said while speaking at a function in Islamabad on CPEC Logistics on Wednesday.

“We as a nation can only benefit from this historic opportunity, if we prepare ourselves to embrace it. All national institutions will have to make a deliberate effort to ensure success of CPEC,” he added.
CPEC is truly a harbinger of economic development, peace and prosperity in the region, he said, adding that unlike some other countries of South Asia, Pakistan believes in focusing its energies on peace and inclusiveness, rather than divisive competition. He was apparently referring to India which publicly opposes the multibillion-dollar project.

Country’s progress: Army chief hails role of overseas Pakistanis

“CPEC would bring increasing economic integration among regional economies and reduce the development gap within various regions of Pakistan,” he said.

Gen Qamar said the Chinese investment in various fields, including energy, infrastructure, Gwadar port and special economic zones, can lay the foundation of a fast-developing Pakistan if the opportunity was optimally utilised.

“We take immense pride in our relationship with China that has always remained on an ascending trajectory and now encompasses almost every sphere of our life. The lasting imprint of this brotherly partnership is visible in state-to-state, military-to-military, business-to-business and people-to-people contacts,” he said.

The army chief went on to say that the Sino-Pak relationship is based on the principles of peaceful co-existence, commonality of interest and shared perception on regional and global issues. “We have always stood by each other through thick and thin and at every critical juncture of our history. That is why we are called Iron brothers.

“Xi Jinping’s grand vision of One Belt, One Road (OBOR) has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for the countries of the region and beyond. CPEC, being an important project of OBOR, holds great promise for turning around the economies of Pakistan, Western China and the region,” he added.

Army chief appreciates security forces for ‘winning back dissidents’

The army chief said to reap benefits from CPEC Pakistan needs education, training and skill development of the youth. “We also need to improve our existing laws and regulations to provide a facilitating framework for trade and investment activities. We need infrastructure and urban planning to ensure that we are able to handle large volume of business and transport, without any hassle,” he added.

Commenting on the prevailing security situation in Pakistan, Gen Qamar said the “country is much safer today than before as peace has been restored in Fata and the adjoining areas”. He said normalcy was also returning to Karachi. “Similarly, the law and order situation has improved significantly in Balochistan and there is great focus on socio-economic development in the province,” he added.

“Pakistan is a resilient nation of over 200 million people, with a large ratio of vibrant, capable and enthusiastic youth. We need to capitalize on this opportunity to make Pakistan an economic power in coming years,” he added.

He encouraged entrepreneurs to join hands with Chinese investors and make this dream a reality. “My dream is that by the year 2030, when we complete the current phase of economic partnership between the two countries, Pakistan should at least be in league with middle income countries,” he stated.
Riaz Haq said…
CPEC outflows to peak at $4.5bn: IMF

https://www.dawn.com/news/1345414/cpec-outflows-to-peak-at-45bn-imf


In a detailed look at the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cautions that corridor projects will generate outflows of as much as $4.5 billion by 2024, while the export benefits of the projects “will likely accrue gradually over time”. Filling the gap in between could pose a policy challenge.

“These considerations warrant policymakers’ attention to two priority areas in order to realise the transformational potential of Pakistan’s investment programme while maintaining external stability,” the IMF report says.

The first challenge is to ramp up export revenue and build foreign exchange buffers, which “will be important to cushion the period of increased BoP outflows”. Ramping up exports will require “improving competitiveness and the business climate” in order to realise the potential benefits from the increased energy supplies and transport infrastructure that the corridor projects will create.

The second big challenge is bringing “full cost recovery” in power distribution. “Routing the increased generation capacity through a loss-making distribution sector could result in faster accumulation of circular debt and fiscal costs, as well as undermine long-term financial sustainability of the new energy projects,” the report adds.

The report stops short of advocating a specific path for improving recoveries, but points towards greater private-sector participation in metering and recoveries while “maintaining a strong and enabling regulatory framework”. The language could be aimed at the government’s proposed reforms to the Nepra Act that seek to parcel out many of the powers the regulator currently enjoys to the federal and provincial governments and their departments.

The report also cautions against going too far down the road of granting incentives to certain categories of investor. It urges the government to “rationalise and limit tax incentives and exemptions [and] maintain uniformity of the tax regime with respect to all investments” and ensure that new external commitments are in line with expected balance of payments trends.

The report notes the positive impact that CPEC projects can have on Pakistan’s economy. It says the direct impact of corridor projects on GDP will go from $2bn in 2017 to $4bn by 2024. By that point in time, the indirect, second-round impacts could commence, which could be “significant” but “will depend on many other supportive factors.”

The report notes that the investments coming under the early-harvest scheme could close Pakistan’s power deficit as 8,600MW are envisaged to be commissioned under CPEC over the next seven to nine years, out of a total capacity expansion of 24,000MW currently in the investment plan. “[T]his expansion will help eliminate Pakistan’s deficit of about 6GW in 2016 to a surplus as early as end-2018.”
Riaz Haq said…
Cultural Caravan with 8 #Chinese & 8 #Pakistani artists to travel in 3 segments of #CPEC. #Culture #China #Pakistan

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/217062-Cultural-Caravan-to-travel-in-three-segments-of-CPEC

Chinese and Pakistani artists, eight from each country, will travel in a cultural caravan in three segments of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), each segment spanning a maximum of ten days’ duration.

“Creative Caravan of artists, musicians and film makers from China and Pakistan traversing the CPEC and documenting Art and Culture en-route,” said PNCA officials.

The Silk route has played a significant role in the culture and economy of the region through the history.

Its visionary transformation into CPEC will be seen as the most powerful engine of change, development, progress and economic turnaround for the entire region.

According to schedule the first segment will undertake the Western Passage covering route from Peshawar to Gwadar.

The second segment will take the Eastern Passage from Karachi to Islamabad while also taking detour between Eastern Western and Central Passages.

The third segment will cover Northern Passage starting from Kashgar and culminating at Islamabad.

Timings of the three segments of the caravan will be decided keeping climatic and other factors in mind.

The film makers will have all their equipment including editing systems with them so they can continue editing their films and also engage local talent in the process of filming and editing.

The painters and photographers will be encouraged to engage with local enthusiasts in creative processes by sharing their knowledge and skills with them and also letting them to take pictures and paint images.

The musicians will not only document local folk music but also perform at different places and interact with local musicians.

Riaz Haq said…
Banyan: Massive #Chinese investment is a boon for #Pakistan. #CPEC #China https://www.economist.com/news/asia/21728619-china-pakistan-economic-corridor-project-carries-risks-massive-chinese-investment-boon … via @TheEconomist

Never has Pakistan been so wooed. The original promised dowry, of $46bn in Chinese grants and soft loans for infrastructure projects, has only grown, to $62bn. This munificence is dubbed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), launched amid fanfare in 2015, on a visit to Pakistan by President Xi Jinping.

Most of the money is earmarked for power plants to improve Pakistan’s notoriously unreliable electricity supply. The rest is going on roads, railways, dams, industrial zones, agricultural enterprises, warehousing, pipelines and a deepwater port in the coastal settlement of Gwadar. Some of the promised money is bound not to materialise, and the claim by the interior minister, Ahsan Iqbal, of “benchmarking” Singapore and Hong Kong when turning remote, dusty Gwadar into a container-shipping hub speaks more of hope than experience. Yet over $14bn has already been spent. CPEC is very different from earlier schemes, when co-operation was promised only to run into the sands.

For Pakistan, the scale of ambition is unprecedented—a “game- and fate-changer” as overwrought locals put it. If CPEC gets electricity and goods flowing efficiently, then growth could jump by over two percentage points a year, by one estimate. Better yet, CPEC could shift the national narrative—too often dominated by coups, extremists and a chippy kind of nationalism—towards economic construction.

What is in it for China is often misunderstood, especially by Sinophobes in Delhi, Tokyo and Washington. They make much of the “corridor” in the plan, concluding that China’s chief aim is to gain access to the Indian Ocean, the better to encircle India. In fact, argues Andrew Small of the German Marshall Fund, an American think-tank, improving transport links through the mountainous neck of land that joins Pakistan to Xinjiang province in China’s far west is one of CPEC’s lesser aims. Yes, Gwadar, as a port on the Indian Ocean, interests the Chinese navy, but would have done so regardless of CPEC. Most of CPEC’s investments are aimed at improving Pakistan’s domestic economy.

China does have strategic motives, of course. A more dynamic Pakistan would certainly act as a counterbalance to the deepening security relationship between India and America, which also provides military aid to Pakistan. Then there is Islamist militancy, which spills back into Xinjiang; development might, as Li Keqiang, China’s prime minister, put it, “wean the populace from fundamentalism”. China needs new markets for its products, as well as new terrain for infrastructure and industrial projects. Most importantly, CPEC has become the main plank of Mr Xi’s ambitious “belt-and-road” initiative, whereby improved infrastructure will help to strengthen economic ties and thus spread China’s influence through Asia and beyond. As Mr Small points out, CPEC has to be seen to work for the broader scheme to seem both credible and appealing.

Even if CPEC is not the neo-imperialist exercise its critics make it out to be, it still has its flaws. The IMF warns that Pakistan may struggle to repay China’s loans, which could in turn prompt a balance-of-payments crisis. Pakistan’s central bankers have in the past deplored a lack of transparency surrounding CPEC contracts; suspicion abounds that Pakistani taxpayers have been shortchanged. And security is a problem. Just one example is the new Chinese-funded road to Gwadar, which runs through an area long gripped by insurgency in the remote, backward province of Balochistan. Mr Iqbal argues that the road and the development it is bringing will help extinguish the conflict. It might equally pour fuel on it, if locals feel excluded.
Riaz Haq said…
CPEC Fears and My Response
Published on September 6, 2017
LikeCPEC Fears and My Response
Hamza Orakzai

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cpec-fears-my-response-hamza-orakzai

1. 91% of the income from Gwadar Port goes to the Chinese and 9% to Pakistan.

Reply: Can you kindly point out what's wrong with this model especially when all the liabilities and investments lie at their end? In past 7 decades, not only our government has failed to develop the port but also ignored the importance of its geostrategic location, and currently, doesn't have the resources to develop it even if they want to for next 3 decades or so. Every Pakistani still gets to use the port and enjoy the benefits from its development. The port is a window to the economic activity it will generate in the country.

2. Chinese companies get preferential treatment and tax exemptions (making it impossible for local companies to compete and opens the Pakistani market for a commercial invasion)

Reply: The statement is completely misleading. Only CPEC projects get tax exemptions, mainly in the power sector, because we are in dire need to mitigate the losses due to the energy crisis in Pakistan. Moreover, tax exemption also drives down the cost of building these strategic projects, which results in lower tariffs and repayments.

(Impossible is a strong word. Construction companies in Pakistan are working at their full capacity, turning down projects due to output issues. Commercial Invasion? I think mentioning special economic zones would be more relevant since the argument of building infrastructure has no correlation with the commercial viability of businesses.)

3. Money for the road network comes from Pakistan (so we're paying for the roads China will use to export stuff to us and the world)

Ans: Let me break the statement into 2 parts:

1) The Road; 2) The Money

1) The Road: The roads built under CPEC will be the property of National Highway Authority and will generate revenue through the toll tax. Moreover, as a Pakistani, will you want strategic roads in the country to be the property of a foreign country?

2) The Money: These projects are being built on Engineering-Procurement-Construction+Finance (EPC+F) Model. Finance comes from China and our government takes it as a concessionary loan. Same as ADB model. But the difference is that Chinese companies are mandated to complete these grand projects within 24-36 months. There needs to be open bidding for these projects, but then again, it will push the timeline of the CPEC to 30 years instead of 15 years.

4. Of the original $50b, over $30b was loans to build power plants for which we'll pay a) interest to Chinese banks b) exorbitant profits to Chinese companies who will build and supply to these plants c) guaranteed profits to the Chinese companies that will operate and own these plants d) backed by sovereign guarantee

Ans: This figure is completely incorrect. All the power projects under CPEC are BOOT (Build-Operate-Own-Transfer) basis which means that investment, loans, and liabilities are all the investor problems. Our problem is to pay for the electricity they produce. No loan has been acquired so far by the government of Pakistan for energy projects.

a) We have nothing to do with the interest rates.

b) Getting a payback for what you invested is a very fair request so don't know what's wrong with it?

c) Guaranteed profits because we have PKR 800 billion in circular debt? Why would anyone even want to invest? Would you?

d) Same as above.

5. We're making commitments to buy electricity at over 8 cents from coal-based plants and India is buying solar electricity at 4 cents (solar price is crashing every year). This will make our manufacturing uncompetitive for the next 15 years or longer.

Ans: We have a problem in this argument. First, we are comparing apples to oranges. The feed-in tariff for coal power plants is around PKR 8/Kwhr in India as well. Although it's a lengthy discussion,


Riaz Haq said…
Chinese perceptions of CPEC
ISHRAT HUSAIN
https://www.dawn.com/news/amp/1357043

The Chinese have voiced concerns regarding negative CPEC talk, security and red tape.

Under its One Belt One Road Initiative announced in 2013, China is planning to invest more than $1 trillion in 60 countries all over the world to establish six different corridors. The receptivity in other countries to this proposal has been anything but enthusiastic; however, some Chinese friends are puzzled by the sceptical and negative reactions from certain quarters in Pakistan expressed in the media, particularly on social media. This comes to them as a surprise because of the long uninterrupted record of strong bilateral relations between the two countries that were not even affected by changes in political leadership in either country. CPEC is the first project of its kind to foster economic cooperation on a massive scale for building large infrastructural projects in Pakistan.

Although realising that there are some external forces hostile to this initiative, Chinese analysts and participants are concerned about what they see as the misrepresentation of facts by many Pakistanis. It is not obvious to them as to what purpose is served by raising doubts and fears about CPEC in the minds of the Pakistani population. The aspersions being cast on the motives of the Chinese, such as the analogy with the East India Company or Pakistan becoming a satellite of China, are very unnerving: external detractors of CPEC pick up these reports and after bundling them as ‘risks’ of CPEC to Pakistan, disseminate them widely.

The Chinese argue that the IPPs have been a policy instrument for investment in Pakistan’s energy sector for a very long time. When the country was facing serious energy shortages no one else came to Pakistan’s rescue and invested in the sector. Now that China has come forward with a planned investment of $35 billion or 70 per cent of the total CPEC allocation under the same policy, questions are being raised.

Had it involved extraction of natural resources from Pakistan for the benefit of the Chinese, this criticism would have been justifiable. On the contrary, the benefits of this investment would be exclusively appropriated by Pakistan’s industries and households that would no longer face load-shedding while the country would record a 2pc annual rise in GDP growth.

Chinese state-owned companies, designated by the Chinese government based on their expertise and experience, are executing the projects with loans provided by government-owned banks on concessional terms both in tenor and pricing. In several projects, Chinese and Pakistani companies have entered into joint ventures. The repatriation of profits and debt-servicing in foreign exchange arising out of these obligations would become possible after an increase in the volume of exports as a result of the Chinese-Pakistani joint ventures relocating their industries to the Gwadar Free Economic Zone and the nine industrial zones to be established under CPEC.

In the opinion of some, the negative feelings can have unintended adverse consequences for the personal security of Chinese nationals working on these projects, particularly in some sensitive areas of Balochistan. Some elements unhappy with the Pakistani state and government and possibly acting at the behest of foreign powers hostile to CPEC appear to have created conditions in which the murders and kidnappings of Chinese nationals that were almost non-existent have begun to take place. Our interlocutors were grateful for the new division being raised by the Pakistan Army for protection of the Chinese; but the security risk is raising premiums for relocation to some of the vulnerable areas.
Riaz Haq said…
Long term plans to be finalised in 50th CPEC review meeting

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/231356-Long-term-plans-to-be-finalised-in-50th-CPEC-review-meeting

The long term Pakistan-China cooperation plan (2015-2030) will be finalised in the 50th China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) 'review meeting' scheduled to be held today (Thursday) under the chair of Ahsan Iqbal, federal minister for planning and interior, a statement said on Wednesday.

“The meeting will finalise the long term plan in consultation with federal ministries and provincial governments, while ministry of railways will brief the meeting about the upcoming financing plan for the up-gradation of Mainline-1 (ML-1) from Peshawar to Karachi will be discussed,” the ministry said in the statement.

The ministry added that Pakistan and China were in the process of finalising the financing plan of $8.5 billion for the ML-1, whereas the next joint working group (JWG) meeting was expected to be held probably next month as the financing plan for the track was also expected to be finalised by November this year.

“Admitting the requirement for having overriding institutional framework to execute $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under long term plan till 2030, Beijing and Islamabad have also agreed to build model industrial parks, each in all provinces, with Chinese financing of multimillion dollars,” the ministry said.

Moreover, it said that it was also under consideration to build model cities along the bank of Indus River, having a range of 300 kilometers, but it was yet to be seen as to how this ambitious plan was going to be finalised in a synergised manner.

“Officials from Chinese Embassy at Islamabad probably Chinese Ambassador, Chinese companies and officials from ministry of planning, line ministries and provincial governments would participate in the meeting,” the ministry said. It further said the forum would review progress on the ongoing projects including schedule and agenda of the next JWGs of energy, transport infrastructure, planning, and Gwadar. “It will further review the progress on consortium of business schools and Pakistan Academy of Social Sciences,” the statement said.
Riaz Haq said…
Value Added Sector Helps #Pakistan’s #Exports Upsurge. Textiles up 11.8%, non-textiles up 23.5% - https://pakwired.com/value-added-sector-behind-pakistans-exports-upsurge/ … via @pakwired

According to a recent report by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Pakistan’s exports have shown a positive trend backed by rising exports via the value added sector. The growth pattern has been observed during the first two months of the current fiscal year 2017-18. The upward trend in the value added sector has given a significant boost to cummulative export numbers as the New Year kicked off.

Total exports during the two month period, July-August, increased to $3.49 billion as compared to $3.12 billion showing a growth of 11.8%. While the increase in non-textile goods has been registered at 23.5% reaching $1.31 billion during July-August 2017-18 versus $1.06 billion during the same period last year.

PERFORMANCE OF VALUE AND NON-VALUE ADDED TEXTILE EXPORTS

Readymade garments have given a major upward push to the overall exports pie increasing by 15.65% on a yearly basis reaching $418.63 million during July-August period. Garments in general have also surged by 16.4% showing volume based growth.

Another integral value-added product, knitwear managed to go up by 7.53% to reach $439 million during July-August. The volume based increase of knitwear exports was 8.23%. Additionally, bed wear exports grew by 8% amounting to $384.32 million while its quantity wise growth stood at 8.79%. Furthermore, the value based growth of towel exports showed 0.67% rise while its volume based growth was registered at 0.03%.

Conversely, the picture has not been equally nice for the intermediate goods like cotton yarn, as their exports slumped by 4% (value) and by 3.3% (volume). Deteriorating demand of cotton yarn and fabric from China is considered a crucial reason for their low sales. Another slump has been seen in the exports of cotton cloth, down by 7.8% in terms of value and quantity. Exports of raw cotton have also seen a downward trend with 14.7% in value and 14.15% in volume during July-August 2017-18.

A major blow has emanated from exports of non-value added products such as cotton carded, which dropped by a whopping 100% in value and volume. In addition, exports of tents and canvas declined by 22% in terms of value. On the other hand, exports of yarn slumped by 0.2% in value but increased in terms of volume.

Quick Read: When will Pakistani companies really value their human resource?

A GLANCE AT NON-TEXTILE EXPORTS

From the non-textile related goods, rice exports grew by a significant 40% during the two months. Basmati and other types of rice exports took a major leap.

From the food category, a major jump was seen in exports of wheat, sugar, fruits during the given period. Crude petroleum and petroleum naphtha registered a growth of 100% and 404% accordingly. Nonetheless, exports of sports goods and carpets saw a downward trend.

Value added leather products increased by 5.8% which was witnessing continuous slump during the last two years. Footwear showed a feeble growth of 0.1% during July-August 2017-18. Furthermore, surgical and engineering goods managed to rise by 26% and 23% respectively.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan targets import curbs to ward off currency crisis

Abbasi to impose fresh curbs on luxuries in effort to avoid devaluing rupee

https://www.ft.com/content/a495b148-a1d2-11e7-9e4f-7f5e6a7c98a2


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https://www.ft.com/content/a495b148-a1d2-11e7-9e4f-7f5e6a7c98a2

Pakistan plans to tighten curbs on luxury imports to ward off a foreign currency crisis without devaluing the rupee, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the prime minister, has said.

Mr Abbasi said he would rather place further controls on imports in an effort to preserve fast-dwindling foreign reserves than allow the rupee to fall against other currencies.

Some experts believe Pakistan will have to request another bailout from the International Monetary Fund within a year.

In March, the Pakistani government made it harder to import non-essential items such as vehicles, mobile phones, cigarettes and jewellery by insisting buyers put down 100 per cent of the cash upfront.

The measure drew criticism that it would encourage people to trade instead on the black market. The IMF said it had been told by Pakistani officials that the restrictions would be removed within a year but Mr Abbasi told the FT his government was planning to impose more.

“We can put regulatory duties on certain items, especially luxury finished goods, that’s possible,” he said. “We probably will do more of that, yes definitely, to discourage imports.

“Currency devaluation is not on the table, it’s not. A lot of people thought it was . . . [but] it is important to have stability for the rupee,” said Mr Abbasi.

Pakistan is running out of foreign currency as exports and payments from Pakistanis abroad fall while imports rise.

The central bank had $14.3bn of foreign reserves as of September 15, according to the most recent data — enough to cover exports for about three months. That is down from a high of $18.9bn last October.

Pakistan has been importing more than it exports for some time, but the problem has been exacerbated by having to buy Chinese supplies for projects as part of the $55bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

While the scheme is aimed at improving Pakistan’s energy supply and transport networks, many economists believe that in the short term it will push Islamabad back towards the IMF.

“We will have to go back to the IMF any time now,” said Muhammad Zubair Khan, a former commerce minister who worked at the IMF for more than a decade. “The current situation is not sustainable.”

Sakib Sherani, a former economic adviser to the government, warned: “From a balance of payments crisis, we will have a full-blown macroeconomic crisis, where private sector sentiment is hit, growth stalls, inflation is high, and the central bank has to act.”

As well as restricting imports, the country has also borrowed money at short notice from various international lenders to pay off its debts. In 2016 and early 2017, Pakistan borrowed $1.2bn from state-backed Chinese banks.

Many economists believe the only long-term way out of the crunch is to allow the rupee to fall, encouraging exports and discouraging imports.

But doing so has become politically sensitive, with ministers insisting on a strong currency while central bankers warning of the likely consequences.

In July, the rupee suddenly fell 3 per cent, having traded in a narrow band since 2015. Central bank officials said they had backed away from shoring up the currency, but the move drew an angry response from the government, which stepped in to boost its value again before replacing the acting governor.
Riaz Haq said…
Development firm announce plans for first master community development for private market

"We believe Gwadar is following in the footsteps of Shenzen which represented a historic population rise, from a population of 30,000 in 1980 to 11 million people in 2017. Gwadar is poised to see massive population growth due to incoming industries, and we expect this to be one of the most strategic cities in South Asia."

http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/news-releases/china-pak-investments-acquires-project-in-gwadar-pakistan-648608313.html

Leading private investment house China Pak Investment Corporation today announced its acquisition of the 3.6 million square foot International Port City project in the city of Gwadar. The investment company is currently revising the scheme's plans in line with international developments standards and will be developing the first of its kind $150 million gated master community tailor-made for the expected 500,000 incoming Chinese professionals expected in Gwadar by 2022.

(Photo: http://mma.prnewswire.com/media/564249/China_Pak_Hills_Phase_1.jpg )
The project which is expected to be renamed China Pak Hills hails an exciting new phase in the development of the port of Gwadar, the 'Gateway City' to the $62 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the largest unilateral foreign direct investment from one nation into another. The CPEC is set to catapult Pakistan's stature as a key global trade and economic hub and includes a bouquet of projects currently under construction that will not only improve Pakistan's infrastructure, but will deepen the economic and political ties between China and Pakistan.

Hao-Yeh Chang, Corporate Communications Director for China Pak Investments Corporation commented, "We believe Gwadar is following in the footsteps of Shenzen which represented a historic population rise, from a population of 30,000 in 1980 to 11 million people in 2017. Gwadar is poised to see massive population growth due to incoming industries, and we expect this to be one of the most strategic cities in South Asia."

The final master plan for China Pak Hills is currently being refined in Hong Kong, and will feature a range of state-of-the-art amenities including an open-air shopping boulevard; indoor shopping mall; restaurants and eateries; an international school & nursery; six community parks; indoor and outdoor sports facilities including tennis courts and a resident's gymnasium; a water desalination plant and recycling centre. China Pak Hills will also be home to the Gwadar Financial District, catering to the growing financial sector and adding much needed A Grade office space to Gwadar's growing market.

One Investments Ltd, a UK-based property investment company, headed by Zeeshan Shah, have been appointed as Global Master - Agent for the Development. "China Pak Hills is a unique and exciting opportunity. The level of investment and commitment made by the Chinese government in the CPEC guarantees that Gwadar is going to be one of the most important trading and access points in the World. Its geographic position, combined with the infrastructure being created through the CPEC means that it can only grow exponentially."

The China Pak Hills master-community is being developed by China Pak Investments and is soon expected to announce options for private sale of limited plots to end purchasers.

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