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Special Assistant for China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Khalid Mansoor on Monday said that over $25 billion in foreign investment has been realised in the first phase of the project.

Addressing a seminar in Karachi, Mansoor said the energy crisis in Pakistan is over, and the country has adequate power to develop industries.

He said that now Phase II of CPEC has begun and is characterised by expansion and development, through which "we will bring the industrial revolution into Pakistan".

The years between 2025 and 2030 will be "a period of maturity, and that involves providing a mechanism for sustainable economic growth.”

The multi-billion-dollar CPEC project between China and Pakistan is a vital cog of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to revive the old Silk Route and enhance economic connectivity between the regions.

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Mansoor said that more than 5,300 MW of power generation is up and running. “For the first time in Pakistan a 660kv transmission line of 880km has been developed and implemented.”

Almost 3,500MW of energy projects are in the last stages of completion, and will be operational in the coming 6-8 months.

"Close to 4,000MW are in the planning stages, which will be implemented in Phase II.”

He said that the current focus is on environmentally friendly projects, with a number of hydel projects in the advanced stages of finalisation.

Mansoor said that the development of CPEC Phase I revolved around energy generation in the country, plus the development of infrastructure and Gwadar Port.

Regarding infrastructure projects, Mansoor said that 1,800km of new motorways, highways and urban mass transit has been completed, and "820km of optic fibre has been laid, from Khunjerab Pass to Rawalpindi."

The $230-million Gwadar International Airport is in the advanced stages of construction. “Almost 30% of it has been completed, and we are confident that in the first or second quarter of next year it will be up and running."

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On the ML-1 Project, which involves railway connectivity from Peshawar to Karachi, Mansoor said that China expects it to be executed soon.

Talking about economic zones, Khalid Mansoor said that there are 22 of them, of which nine are under the purview of CPEC. “Out of those we are focussing on four Special Economic Zones (SEZ), one in each province."

“But the very important one is Gwadar Free Zone (GFZ). Phase one of the GFZ was only 60 acres, however, the second phase was almost 37 times larger i.e. 2200 acres.”

He said that Chinese investors are contemplating relocating their industries to Gwadar so they can begin exporting from there, "and that is in line with our requirement as well.”

“I would like to deviate this perception that CPEC is only China-centric. It is not, because even right now there are investors from USA, Germany, UK, Canada and Netherlands. There are a number of SMEs investors, and there are close to 18-19 investors who have already invested in Allama Iqbal Zone, and over $1 billion investment has been realised,” he said.

In his message to participants, Mansoor said that CPEC is open to all investors from all over the world.

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Mansoor said CPEC's vision is to accelerate the socio-economic development of Pakistan by bringing in industrial, technological and agricultural revolutions through Chinese investment and transfer of technology.

“We have developed a strategy which will do three things: import substitution, export orientation and creating employment opportunities,” said Mansoor.

He said the government aims to make Pakistan a ‘manufacturing hub and an export destination.

“For this, we will fully leverage our linkages with government entities, develop interconnection with State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) of China, and financial institutions to realise this dream.”

The story was originally published in Business Recorder on March 14, 2022.