Panelists talk about CPEC development, its relationship with environment

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China,Pakistan to reap 'early harvest' in economic corridor: Chinese minister

ISLAMABAD, Dec 14 (APP): The panelists at conference on China-
Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Regional Integration’ on
Wednesday talked about different aspects of China-Pakistan Economic
Corridor (CPEC), development and their relationship with the
environment.
Expressing his views, the panelist Naseer Memon, Chief
Executive, Strengthening Participatory Organization, said that
development should not be at the cost of environment but at the same
time it also does not mean that we should not grow.
The proceedings of the second day of the three-day conference
included two panel discussions and parallel technical session on
different topics.
The conference is being organized by the Pakistan Institute of
Development Economics (PIDE), with the support of Ministry of
Planning, Development and Reform on “China-Pakistan Economic
Corridor and Regional Integration”.
The highlight of the day was A. R. Kemal Memorial Lecture by
Dr. Arshad Zaman, former Chief Economist, Government of Pakistan.
The premise of Dr. Zaman’s talk was, “we must all defend
Pakistan, better”, making a strategy of sovereign development that
combines defense, diplomacy and economic restructuring.
In his lecture, he talked about four major challenges facing
Pakistan that need to be responded.
These challenges are rebirth of nationalism in West, war of
narratives in the war for oil and Israel, emergence of Sino-Russian
relationship, in the form of Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and
militant extremism in India.
He said, in order to form a sovereign development strategy
Pakistan needs to take a few important initiatives.
Dr. Zaman said that the US-India alliance is a game changer
and our defense plans should adjust accordingly.
Sino-Russian relations have made US anxious although at
present US remains preeminent but China is emerging fast as a global
leader.
Pakistan already has good relations with China but should also
work on improving relations with Iran, Russia, and Germany because
Iran is an important neighbor, Russia is reemerging, while Germany
is the oldest European power.
The first panel discussion of the day on “Mainstreaming
Environment in CPEC” was chaired by Syed Abu Akif, Secretary,
Ministry of Climate Change, while the discussion was moderated by
Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative, IUCN, Pakistan.
He was of the view that development is not only about who will
benefit from it but it is also about who will bear the costs.
Shafqat Kakakhel, former Assistant Secretary General of the
UN, said that the CPEC is skewed towards energy projects and energy
projects, in turn, are skewed towards coal.
Therefore, both the governments should work together to lessen
the adverse impacts.
Ashiq Hussain, Advisor Ev-K2-CNR, said that the projects like
CPEC should not ignore the biodiversity aspects because biodiversity
promotes ecotourism, which is an important industry.
He stressed that biodiversity must be maintained as it is the
main raw material for ecotourism.
Expressing his views on the topic, Syed Mahmood Nasir,
Inspector General Forest, Ministry of Climate Change, Pakistan, said
that there should also be a biological corridor and there should
also be a road-cross strategy for animals.
He further said that fresh water conservation should also be
assured through parks, lakes and wetlands.
Taking the discussion further, Rehana Siddiqui, Head
Department of Environmental Economics, PIDE, said that environmental
regulations are more stringent in China but in Pakistan the
devolution of the Ministry of Climate Change is creating issues in
the implementation of these regulations.
Generating energy from coal is polluting the environment and
the best feasible option is the transfer of clean technology from
China.
She said there is also a need to tackle the issues of future
urbanization along CPEC.
Local community will lose their livelihood; therefore the
alternative sources of the livelihood should be sought, such as
ecotourism.
Earlier, in a technical session, a study on the nexus between
globalization and inequality argued that there is no clear cut
relationship between globalization and inequality in developing
countries.
However, effective and average tariff rates affect income
inequality negatively.
Another paper talked about the potential of international
trade. The presenters said that the researchers must take the
institutional structures into account.
According to another paper on the linkages of Pakistan’s
economy with the globe, the Pakistani investors are vulnerable to
external financial shocks due to financial integration, whereas
manufacturing and production is not affected by external factors.
Analysis in the paper on the impact of technical barriers on
trade between Pakistan showed that while China, India and Sri Lanka
have more non-tariff barriers (NTBs) than Pakistan, China and
India’s NTBs are more sophisticated.
Talking about the experience of industrialization in Pakistan,
a paper argued that although Pakistan has been promoting
industrialization since independence, the progress has been slow due
to poor governance and rent-seeking.
In a paper on freight transport networks, the presenter said
that freight sector inefficiencies in Pakistan prove to be very
costly.
It is important to integrate road and trade networks to reduce
cost and enhance efficiency.
Currently, 96 percent of the freight is transported through
road and only 4 percent of the freight is carried through the train
network.
According to a paper on FDI and economic growth, FDI is
significant contributor to overall growth in Pakistan but spillover
effects of FDI across sectors.