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Dated : 7 April 2017
Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal addressed at the 1st All Pakistan Chambers and Associations Seminar on CPEC held at Gawadar, Baluchistan on 7th April, 2017.
Seminar was attended by all the Business & Commerce Chambers of Pakistan, Government Officials, Local Community and Other Major Stakeholders.
Minister Iqbal noted that CPEC is a fusion of China's vision of "One Belt and One Road" & Pakistan's Vision 2025. Minister Iqbal stated that CPEC will allow Pakistan to become a hub of socioeconomic activity between Asia, Central Asia & South Asia. Minister remarked in his speech that CPEC will not only benefit Pakistan and China but will benefit the entire region and beyond.
Minister Iqbal apprised the audience that inter and intra region connectivity provided by CPEC makes it a fate changer for everyone because connectivity ensures greater trade, socioeconomic activity and general welfare.
Minister Iqbal informed that CPEC project will result in breaking the two bottlenecks faced by Pakistan's Economy: Lack of Infrastructure & Energy Shortage. Minister Iqbal termed infrastructure and energy as the two essential pre-requisites of development and questioned the knowledge of critics who object to infrastructure investments in CPEC.
Minister Iqbal further explained CPEC by breaking it down into four components: (i) Infrastructure Projects (ii) Energy Projects (iii) Gawadar Port (iv) Industrial and Economic Zones. Minister Iqbal stated that historical investments are made in infrastructure which has led to upcountry connectivity of Gawadar for the first time. Minister Iqbal praised the sacrifice of 44 FWO soldiers who gave their lives but did not allow the negative forces to sabotage the infrastructure projects in Balochistan.
Minister Iqbal noted that energy mix adopted under CPEC is diverse and will produce economical & affordable energy. Neglected coal reserves, renewable energy, hydel and other sources of energy are explored under CPEC.
Minister Iqbal categorically squashed all noises suggesting that CPEC will lead to a loss of domestic business or employment. Minister Iqbal stated that proposed industrial and economic zones under CPEC are efforts to leverage Pakistan's comparative advantage in labour to attract the relocating business of China in light engineering and labour Intensive Industry which can lead to Initiation of a new age of industrialization in Pakistan.
Minister Iqbal stated that 85 Million Jobs are up for grabs in China due to relocation of Chinese Business who have lost their competitive advantage because of rise in cost of operation in China, CPEC presents an opportunity to Pakistan to grab major of share of the available jobs which can help employ the unemployed surplus labour.
Minister Iqbal noted that CPEC has allowed Pakistan to transform Pak-China Geo-Strategic relations into Geo-Economic for the first time in the History. CPEC is further allowing Pakistan to embrace the shift the world saw in 20th Century from Geo-Politics to Geo-Economics, remarked Minister Iqbal. On the above stated grounds Minister Iqbal stated that CPEC offers unprecedented opportunities for Pakistani Business!
Minister Iqbal said that in order to gauge the progress Pakistan has made over the last few years it is important to draw comparison of Pakistan of now and 2013. Minister noted that 2013 saw Pakistan termed as the most dangerous country by the global media whereas now in 2017 the same media is calling Pakistan as the next Asian Tiger. Minister Iqbal pointed out that similarly in 2013 Pakistan was considered a security risk and state was cornered by terrorists but today the terrorists are on the run and cornered by the state, Government actions have resulted in a safer and secure Pakistan. Minister also pointed out that energy crisis was reaching a breaking point in 2013, timely efforts and mega investments in energy sector under CPEC is drastically increasing Pakistan's capacity to produce energy.
Minister Iqbal concluded his address with hope that CPEC can be materalised as a tool of inclusive growth where the people of Pakistan can be the subjects of the development process. Minister Iqbal thanked all the Chambers of Pakistan, Business Community at large, People of the Gawadar, and the Youth of Gawadar for extending their trust and support to the efforts of Government of Pakistan aimed at ensuring that Pakistan will rise and shine.