The federal and provincial governments are considering offering an incentive package for the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEc).
An informed source said that the federal and provincial governments want to accelerate the construction of new industries in the SEZs before the next general elections. They said that the federal and provincial governments are considering offering tax incentives for investors setting up industries units in SEZs.
The federal and provincial governments had jointly proposed SEZs locations to China, which were approved at a joint meeting. The approved sites include Bostan in Balochistan, Rashakai in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dhabeji in Sindh, Sheikhupura in Punjab, Moqpondas in Gilgit Baltistan, Bhimber in Azad Kashmir and Mohmand in FATA, and federal government sites in Islamabad and Port Qasim.
The government is of the opinion that the development of the industrial parks along the CPEC offers a unique opportunity for Pakistan to catch up on its industrialization.
The SEZ at Islamabad is said to be the major one, with many Chinese companies having shown interest in establishing manufacturing units and offices there. Islamabad will be the main intersection for proceeding towards Gwadar and the rest of Pakistan.
China, the source said, also wants earlier operationalisation of the SEZs to counter propaganda against the CPEC in Pakistan. Many politicians have termed it another East India Company in the making and some chambers of commerce and industry have also raised concerns about the CPEC.
Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are more active than other provinces for operationalising the SEZs, as announcement of incentive package will help attract early investors. China also wants joint ventures between Pakistani and Chinese companies but so far except for a few cases, no major collaboration has occurred, the source said.
It is important to mention that China wants a special business to business (B2B) bond between the entrepreneurs of both countries. Some efforts were made last year and more trade shows and exchange of business delegations will take place this year, the source added.