Pakistan would become a central player in the evolving regional system if the ADB’s CAREC (Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program) and China’s BRI (Belt & Road Initiative) succeed in introducing land-based commerce in the country. This was stated by Shahid Javed Burki, a distinguished economist who has served as the Vice President of the World Bank as well as a former caretaker Finance Minister of Pakistan.
In his exclusive write-up recently appeared in Monthly SouthAsia (www.southasia.com.pk), Shahid Javed Burki has talked about the significant role of the financial and economic institutions in the national development and economic growth. His article is a part of the magazine’s cover story on the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
According to Burki, Pakistan has been fairly active in the United Nations and several affiliated organizations, but its relations with economic entities have real significance for the country, as a number of these institutions have provided large amounts of financial support and have been important for improving the global environment in which the country must work. He says the ADB has a large program in Pakistan, but it has not been involved in promoting regional connectivity, but it may change with the launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor program aimed at improving the country’s physical infrastructure.
Burki says one of the major initiatives included in the CPEC is the construction of three highway corridors that would connect the deep-water port in Gwadar on the Balochistan coast in Pakistan with Khunjerab on the China-Pakistan border. This program could be linked with the ADB’s Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation, or CAREC, a partnership of 11 countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan and China, says Burki.
He says trade within the CAREC region is relatively limited compared with other regions in Asia-Pacific, as CAREC’s intra-regional trade intensity index is only 0.2, lagging behind the ASEAN’s 3.2. “The main reason for this is poor communication among the nations in the area. CAREC, working with China’ Belt and Road Initiative, would help in improving the flow of goods and commodities in the region. Both BRI and CAREC would introduce land-based commerce, reducing the dependence on the sea.”