Islamabad (Staff Report): In a roundtable discussion organized by the Institute of Regional Studies on ‘Success of Special Economic Zones: A Way Forward’, the experts stressed the need to learn from the Chinese experience of establishing successful SEZs.

In her introductory remarks, Ms. Nabila Jaffer, a Research Analyst from IRS, told the participants that the success of SEZs will usher in a new era of industrialization under the CPEC. Taking the discussion forward,

Dr. Hassan Daud Butt, a former CEO of the Board of Investment and Trade, KP, said that there was a need to stimulate domestic investments, for that, he urged for an enabling environment which was a pre-requisite, he added.

Mr. Daud argued that the success of Chinese SEZs was based on three elements; political will, pragmatic leadership, and policy continuation with political stability. ‘Pakistan, for its part, needs to focus on these elements to make the SEZs a success’, he stressed. He also called for an industrial policy for Pakistan which he claimed was essential to attract FDI. In the end, he advised the government to consider SEZs a part of the National Industrial Development agenda.

Mr. Shakeel Ahmed Ramay, CEO of Asian Institute of Ecocivilization, Research and Development, said that there was a need to bridge the research gap in Pakistan, adding that, there was a dearth of comparative research on SEZs which was the key to understanding the development cycle of economic zones. He regretted that SEZs in Pakistan was running on political rationale, rather than economic rationale. Mr. Ramay suggested that we need to focus more on scientific decision making and make good use of emerging technologies in the development of SEZs. He argued that the consistent reforms based on scientific knowledge would bring a paradigm shift in the economy of Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Zahid Latif Khan, Chairman of the Islamabad Stock Exchange, said that Pakistan has the capacity to develop local industry through SEZs which would help reduce Pakistan’s imports in a significant way, however for that, we need to increase public and private partnerships.

Dr. Azam Khan, from Arid University, said that the agriculture sector can be benefited from SEZs if we synergize crop production with particular SEZs in that area. Pakistan’s farmers have traditional harvesting technology which needs to be upgraded, adding that, SEZs can be instrumental in producing agricultural technology, advanced and hybrid seeds, and fertilizers.

Miss Sadia Saif Niazi, Lecturer at NUML, said that CPEC and SEZs were more important for Pakistan than China. She emphasized that Pakistan needs to prioritize the economic security of the people, and the CEPC was a great opportunity in that regard, she added.

Tauseef Ahmad, a researcher at CSCR said that Pakistan “needs to mobilize its diaspora” for investment in SEZs. He stressed that SEZs should work as One Stop Shop.

Mr. Bilal Janjua, former Advisor to SEZs, said that the youth have the potential to bring a significant change in the country, there was only a need to provide them enabling environment, and space, he added. He noted that the majority of Pakistan’s economic problems can be fixed through the new ideas generated by youth. While concluding the session,

President IRS Ambassador Nadeem Riaz said that skill development and vocational training programs were essential for the success of the SEZs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »