CPEC: New developments reported over digital infrastructure and IT field
BEIJING: The cooperation in digital infrastructure and IT under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will soon make some significant progress under the IT industry joint working group (JWG) established at the 10th CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting, said Du Zhenli, deputy director general of the China International Engineering Consulting Corporation.
With rich labour resources, a broad market, and a wide radiating capacity, covering the Middle East and Central Asia, Pakistan has become one of the fastest-growing IT markets in the world, but there is still an imbalance, Zhenli, also an Investment Counsellor appointed by Pakistan to promote Chinese investment in Pakistan, added.
At present, there are around 3.7 million broadband users in Pakistan. Among the 51,000 villages in the country, most are not covered by telecommunication services.
Given that 60 per cent of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30, it can be expected that the communication services will see rapid development in the future.
The Pakistan government has listed the expansion of telecommunications infrastructure and the popularisation of telecommunication services, especially to the vast rural areas and underdeveloped areas as an important developmental task, the China Economic Net (CEN) reported.
“With the increasing importance of the digital economy in the world, Pakistan has a strong demand to develop its own information technology.
Huawei, ZTE, China Mobile and other service providers have a very solid foundation, which can boost Pakistan’s industrial development,” Zhenli said.
The Pakistan government and the people welcome foreign investment. The Pakistan government has carried out economic reform, economic liberalisation, and privatisation, and formulated a relatively liberal and open investment policy, he said.
It has signed investment protection agreements with more than 40 countries, and double taxation avoidance agreements with more than 50 countries, including China.
With the advancement in CPEC construction, Pakistan’s transport infrastructure and energy infrastructure conditions have been greatly improved, significantly promoting the improvement of Pakistan’s investment environment, he said.
“The establishment of SEZs [Special Economic Zones] is not the ultimate goal, rather, they should be utilised to attract major IT industry projects to land here.”
Zhenli has been involved in consultation and research on the cooperation between China and Pakistan for the last 15 years. Since October 2016, under the leadership of the CPEC Secretariat of the China’s National Development and Reform Commission, he has provided consultation and technical support related to industrial park cooperation under CPEC.
Pakistan’s Investment Strategy 2020/23 takes into account the unique opportunity of China’s industrial and capacity transfer. It will pay more attention to the cooperation in the private sector of both countries, take labour-intensive and export-oriented projects as the forerunner, and finally realise industrial diversification.
“In the future, when the individual projects are specifically landed, these preferential policies may still need to be deepened and refined,” Zhenli suggested.