Monday, November 21, 2016

Pakistan's Regional Economic Integration: CAREC or SAARC or Both?

Pakistan sits between two economically very dynamic regions: Central Asia (and Western China) and South Asia. Which region is better suited for its economic connectivity and integration? Should Islamabad focus on CAREC (Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation) rather than SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation)?

Ideally, Pakistan should be a major player in both vibrant regions. However, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policy of attempting to isolate Pakistan has essentially forced it to choose.

First, Mr. Modi decided to boycott this year's SAARC summit that was scheduled to take place in Islamabad, Pakistan. Then, he unsuccessfully attempted to hijack the BRICS economic summit in India to use it as a political platform to attack and isolate Pakistan.  The signal to Pakistan was unmistakable: Forget about SAARC.

Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC):

CAREC is a growing group of nations that is currently made up of 11 members, including China and a list of STANs.   The current membership includes Afghanistan (joined CAREC in 2005), Azerbaijan (2003), People's Republic of China (1997), Georgia (2016), Kazakhstan (1997), Kyrgyz Republic (1997), Mongolia (2003, Pakistan (2010), Tajikistan (1998), Turkmenistan (2010) and Uzbekistan (1997).



The last ministerial meeting of CAREC nations was held in Islamabad in October, 2016. The conference theme was “Linking connectivity with economic transformation".

Welcoming fellow ministers, Pakistan's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar talked about the importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to improve trade flow within the region and with the rest the rest of the world.

Dar said CPEC offered a massive opportunity for connectivity between Central Asia, Middle East and Africa and was bound to play a defining role in economic development of the regions. Dar said improving the transport corridor was not an end in itself but it was an investment in establishing sound infrastructure and complementary frameworks for shared prosperity of the present and future generations in the region, according to a report in Pakistani media.

CAREC Corridors:

CAREC region is building six economic corridors to link Central Asian nations. Six multi-national institutions support the CAREC infrastructure development, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank,  Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, according to Khaleej Times.

Out of the total $27.7 billion CAREC infrastructure investment so for, $9.9 billion or 36 per cent was financed by ADB, a senior officer of the Manila-based multinational bank told Khaleeej Times.

He said other donors had invested $10.9 billion while $6.9 billion was contributed by CAREC governments. Of these investments, transport got the major share with $8 billion or 78 per cent. Asian Development Bank Vice President Wencai Zhang said: "There are huge financing requirements in Carec for transport and trade facilitation, for which 108 projects have been identified at an investment cost of $38.8 billion for the period 2012-2020. Investment for the priority energy sector projects will be $45 billion in this period."

CPEC North-South Corridor:

China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a major part of the north-south corridor that will allow trade to flow among CAREC member countries, many of which are resource-rich but landlocked nations. The corridor will enable the group to access to the Pakistani seaports in Gwadar and Karachi as part of the new maritime silk route (MSR) as envisioned by China and Pakistan.

Pakistan's Finance Minister Dar says the CPEC would complement the regional connectivity initiatives of CAREC. "Once the six CAREC corridors and mega ports, now under construction, start operating, they will provide access to global markets. They will deliver services that will be important for national and regional competitiveness, productivity, employment, mobility and environmental sustainability. All of us should gear our national policies to achieve these targets."

CPEC consists of transport and communication infrastructure—roads, railways, cable, and oil and gas pipelines—that will stretch 2,700 kilometers from Gwadar on the Arabian Sea to the Khunjerab Pass at the China-Pakistan border in the Karakorams.

China and Pakistan are developing plans for an 1,800 kilometer international rail link from the city of Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in Western China to Pakistan's deep-sea Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea, according to Zhang Chunlin, director of Xinjiang's regional development and reform commission.



 "The 1,800-kilometer China-Pakistan railway is planned to also pass through Pakistan's capital of Islamabad and Karachi," Zhang Chunlin said at the two-day International Seminar on the Silk Road Economic Belt in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, according to China Daily.

"Although the cost of constructing the railway is expected to be high due to the hostile environment and complicated geographic conditions, the study of the project has already started," Zhang said. "China and Pakistan will co-fund the railway construction. Building oil and gas pipelines between Gwadar Port and China is also on the agenda," Zhang added.

Afghan Instability:

Pakistan is making a serious effort to stabilize Afghanistan, a member of CAREC. A trilateral conference of China, Russia and Pakistan is scheduled this month in Moscow as part of this effort. Afghan instability has prevented Pakistan from connecting with other STANs for commerce and trade. Now the development of CPEC will enable Pakistan to bypass Afghanistan, if necessary, to connect with Central Asia region through Western China.

Summary:

History shows that growth of regional and global trade in East Asia, Europe and North America regions has been a major driver of economic opportunity and prosperity.  Unfortunately, SAARC has been a huge disappointment for Pakistanis.  With the development of CPEC and CAREC, Pakistan can now begin to participate in the growth of regional and global trade that will benefit the people of Pakistan.  The path to Pakistan's participation in SAARC will open up if or when India-Pakistan relations improve.

Here's a National Geographic Documentary on CPEC:

https://youtu.be/q2lWYxbIBCs




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

1800 Km Pak-China Rail Link

China Pakistan Economic Corridor

CPEC to Create Over 2 Million Jobs

Modi's Covert War in Pakistan

ADB Raises Pakistan GDP Growth Forecast

Gwadar as Hong Kong West

China-Pakistan Industrial Corridor

Indian Spy Kulbhushan Yadav's Confession

Ex Indian Spy Documents RAW Successes Against Pakistan

Pakistan FDI Soaring with Chinese Money for CPEC


5 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

The Countries Building New Silk Road -- And What They're Winning In The Process. #CPEC #Pakistan #China via @forbes

http://www.forbes.com/sites/wadeshepard/2016/11/22/what-win-win-along-the-new-silk-road-really-means/#22aa1adb5ab3

..almost as soon as the Soviet Union disintegrated, the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus began looking for ways to reconnect again. Inspiration for the future was soon taken straight from the pages of history. During the days of what had retroactively been dubbed the Silk Road the countries of Central Asia acted as land bridge, connecting the booming markets of China with those in Europe. Ancient Silk Road cities like Xi’an, Samarkand, Merv, Aleppo, and Baghdad all acted as major transshipment and manufacturing centers, where middlemen would relay wares between all points of the Eurasian landmass. While there is certainly a large amount of romance attached to this simplified rendering of history, this rendering is serving as a functional road map as to how the region is moving forward and developing today.

Eurasia, as a contiguous continent stretching from the west of Europe to the eastern coast of China, is rapidly being drawn together into a massive market covering over 60 countries, 60% of the world’s population, 75% of energy resources, and 30% of GDP. Many plans have been brought forth by multiple regional players to guide this endeavor — the most dynamic of which is China’s multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road initiative — but the end goal of them all is the same: to create “win-win” solutions where all parties benefit by pursuing the similar goal of infrastructural development and economic integration.

“In order to create a situation where everybody is in the same boat in terms of economic development, they are putting together One Belt, One Road,” said Huang Jing of Singapore National University. “In other words, if everyone is economically in the same boat then if China goes up everybody goes up and if China goes down then everybody goes down. That’s the nature of the idea.”

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Pakistan currently finds itself caught in the middle of prolonged geopolitical and security quagmire. With a marked political struggle with India to the southeast, and having Iran to the west and Afghanistan to the north, the country’s economic potential has been very much stunted. Partnering with China on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a core part of the Belt and Road initiative, is seen as a key way not only for Pakistan to improve its energy capacities, enhance its infrastructure, and bolster its economy — and, ideally, assuage terrorism and other security threats in the process.

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Now a fundamental station on the China-led 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Sri Lanka is engaging in large-scale infrastructure projects with China, which include Colombo Financial City — a financial center meant to rival Singapore and Dubai — a deep sea port in Hambantota, a new container terminal in Colombo’s port, the Mattala International Airport, and an impending 15,000 acre industrial zone that will reputedly attract 2,500 Chinese companies and create a million jobs. Although there have been multitudes of near catastrophic political, administrative, and debt problems associated with building this new infrastructure, the country’s prime minister still refers to it a once in a lifetime opportunity to jump-start development and generate a high-income society.

Riaz Haq said...

Global trade and capital flows flat or declining as globalization hits a wall.


Global capital flows:

http://www.economonitor.com/blog/2016/11/the-retreat-of-financial-globalization/


Peter McQuade and Martin Schmitz of the European Central Bank investigate the decline in capital flows between the pre-crisis period of 2005-06 and the post-crisis period of 2013-14. They report that total inflows in the post-crisis period reached about 50% of their pre-crisis levels in the advanced economies and about 80% in emerging market economies. The decline is particularly notable in the EU countries, where inflows fell to only about 25% of their previous level. The steepest declines occurred in the capital flows gathered in the “other investment” category.


Global trade flows:

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-11-15/what-it-will-take-for-trump-to-stop-globalization

This year has been full of news about the slowing or perhaps even end of globalization. The main evidence is that global trade volumes appear to have stopped rising, something that hardly ever happens outside of a recession. Still, if you step back a little, you can make a case that the globalization train is still chugging -- slowly -- along.


Last February, the McKinsey Global Institute put out a report on this rise of "digital globalization" and declared that:

Flows of physical goods and finance were the hallmarks of the 20th-century global economy, but today those flows have flattened or declined. Twenty-first-century globalization is increasingly defined by flows of data and information.



Riaz Haq said...

Dangerous Doval Doctrine: #Balochistan vs #Kashmir | Frontline. #India #Pakistan #Modi #BJP http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/balochistan-vs-kashmir/article9373742.ece …

The pursuit of a tit-for-tat diplomacy will not get India anywhere because Balochistan and Kashmir are not on a par, legally and politically. The time has come for India to drop the Baloch card and work for the settlement of Kashmir. By A.G. NOORANI
“PAKISTAN’s vulnerabilities are many times higher than us [sic]. Once they know that India has shifted gear from defensive mode to defensive-offence, they will find that it is unaffordable for them. You may do one Mumbai, you may lose Balochistan,” Ajit Doval, now Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s National Security Adviser, said at the 10th Nani Palkhivala Memorial Lecture at Sastra University, Thanjavur, on February 21, 2014. This was three months before he became NSA and the Manmohan Singh government was still in power.

The shock this Doval Doctrine of “defensive-offence” induced precluded any cool analysis of its implications (see the writer’s “The Doval doctrine”, Frontline, November 13, 2015). Doval was advocating a diplomacy of tit for tat with full knowledge of the perils it entailed, not least among them being the risk of matters getting out of hand in the retaliatory ladder of escalation. This becomes apparent when one moves from the doctrine to the specific, Balochistan.

Whoever perpetrated the Mumbai attacks committed a dastardly crime. But at no time did India ever allege that Pakistan’s top leaders were complicit in it. Is it not a wholly disproportionate retaliation to secure the detachment of one of Pakistan’s four provinces? Would its leaders, civil and military, sit back with folded hands when this is being attempted? And the Great Powers in the “Security Council”, especially China, which now has a stake in Balolchistan? And, pray, how does Doval propose to detach Balochistan? By military invasion? Far from it. Our “intelligence commando” has other plans whose elements are no secret. He proposes to do this by fomenting subversion through covert action. He could not possibly have made the claim (“you may lose Balochistan”) unless India had acquired significant “assets” there—as they are called in the idiom of covert operations—over the years. They cannot be acquired instantly. It is these existing assets, acquired, trained and funded over the years, which emboldened Doval to speak as confidently as he did.

Riaz Haq said...

#Russia and #Pakistan slowly move towards an embrace. #India #China #CPEC #Gwadar @AJEnglish
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/12/russia-pakistan-slowly-move-embrace-161203083811644.html

Or, how Russia got a warm-water port without firing a shot.

Ahmed Rashid is a journalist and the author of five books on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia. His latest book is 'Pakistan on the Brink, the future of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the West'.

After decades of hostility, Russia and Pakistan are gingerly trying to improve relations. Russia is cautiously wooing Pakistan in a bid to temper Islamabad's support for the Afghan Taliban and to end the civil war in Afghanistan, which is threatening Central Asia - the soft underbelly of Russian influence in the former Soviet Union territories.

Pakistan faces increasing isolation in the region - spurned by India, Afghanistan and Iran, and criticised by the US and NATO countries - because of its continued harbouring of the Afghan Taliban. At present, it is solely dependent on Chinese economic and political support.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Pakistan is desperately keen to rebuild relations with Russia. Islamabad would like to use warmer ties with Moscow to counter US and western pressure and be able to boast of more than one ally in the region.

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Pakistan offered Russia the use of Gwadar, its new Chinese-built port on the Gulf, which is close to Iran and opposite Oman. From Tsarist times, Russia has always wanted a port in the ''warm waters'' of the Gulf. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan was convinced that the Russian dream was to have a base on Pakistan's Gulf coastline. Ironically, Pakistan is now offering the same facility.

However, Gwadar port is yet to become fully operational and it is surrounded by insurgencies in Afghanistan and Balochistan province. Its capacity is being enhanced by a Chinese-built network of roads that will eventually connect to the Chinese border in northern Pakistan.

Use of the port by foreign ships is still some way off, and Pakistan has not made it clear if it would allow Russian warships to dock there. The Chinese navy has already been granted landing rights at the port.

Russia has also agreed to sell helicopters to Pakistan, lifting its decades-old arms embargo against Islamabad, while India is now looking for arms from Western nations such as the US and France.

Riaz Haq said...

Dailytimes | #Pakistan #exports $5.4bn worth of services in FY16. #trade #services - http://go.shr.lc/2gOAqMf via @Shareaholic

The services sector contributing by 59.2% to Pakistan's gross domestic product (GDP) exported services worth $5.4 billion in fiscal year 2015-16 (FY16), with a deficit of $ 2.9 billion as compared to last fiscal.

The deficit of $ 2.9 billion was 3.8 percent lower than the deficit recorded last year and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) attributed this small improvement mainly to a reduction in the freight deficit, which is the largest component in the country's services trade profile, as a result of the big decline in oil prices.

Services exports' share in the economy has gradually increased from 50 percent in FY00 to 59 percent in FY16 .However, past data suggests that services exports have stagnated around this level since FY10.

'The commodity producing sector, which has been growing at a slower pace as compared to services, may not be able to generate sufficient exportable surpluses to meet the country's growing foreign reserves needs', SBP added.

Inflows under government services - primarily Coalition Support Fund (CSF) and other military services - account for more than one-third of the country's total services exports. This is substantially higher than the share of government services of only 2 to 3 percent in the world trade in services. Given the non-economic and one off nature of government services, the high share does not bode well for long-term stability of export receipts. Incidentally, flows under CSF dropped drastically in FY16, the central Bank elaborated.

'The current level of Pakistan's services exports does not reflect the country's true potential. Concerted efforts are needed to facilitate services exports by strengthening the regulatory framework; well-thought liberalisation of trade in services; investment in human resource development (especially in education and training for select services); improving access to finance for service-oriented industries; encouraging the private sector to form services coalitions and enterprise networks; promoting specialization in financial services; and improving data availability', SBP suggested.

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Non-CSF government services exports have recorded a sizable growth over the last two years; if this trend continues, it may cushion any further fall in FX receipts under CSF. The export of commercial services, which is obtained by adjusting overall export of services for government services, has remained almost flat at $ 3.4 billion since FY11.

These were only 1.2 percent of GDP in FY16, which is far below the global average level of 6.0 percent of world GDP. These exports are concentrated in transport, Information Communication Technology (ICT), travel, and business segments. These four (out of 11 major categories) have a combined share of more than 90 percent in overall export of commercial services.

ICT services exports, which continued to increase up to FY13, have stagnated since then.

This stagnation is largely stemming from telecommunication services, as revenues from foreign network operators (for calls that originate from outside Pakistan) are declining. This drop has come about as internet-based messaging and voice services, like Skype, Viber and Whatsapp, have gained tremendous traction locally. However, the negative impact was largely offset by the growing export of computer services. Exports of both software consultation services and of computer software, have maintained an upward trajectory since FY06.