Bridging the world: Unveiling the global benefits of BRI
Tahir Farooq
Gwadar Port in Pakistan is one of the major projects under China's Belt and Road Initiative, January 18, 2019. /CFP
Gwadar Port in Pakistan is one of the major projects under China's Belt and Road Initiative, January 18, 2019. /CFP

Gwadar Port in Pakistan is one of the major projects under China's Belt and Road Initiative, January 18, 2019. /CFP

Bridging the world: Unveiling the global benefits of BRI


Editor's note: The article is part of CGTN's series called "New Chapter of the BRI", in which global economists and eminent academics share their views and insights on the development and opportunity of BRI. Tahir Farooq, is the editor in chief of Pakistan Economic Net & Daily Ittehad Media Group. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), proposed by China in 2013, has become one of the most significant and ambitious infrastructure projects in the world today. Under BRI, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) stands out as a flagship project, linking China's western Xinjiang to Pakistan's Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea. We will delve into the economic aspects of the BRI and highlight the substantial benefits that both Pakistan and China stand to gain from the CPEC.

Starting with BRI, one of the primary motivations behind the project is to promote economic development, not only within China but also among its partner countries. By investing in infrastructure, transportation networks, and trade facilitation, China aims to create economic opportunities, promote trade, and stimulate growth in regions that are part of the initiative.

BRI seeks to improve connectivity and trade between China and countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, and beyond. By building roads, railways, ports, and other infrastructure, it aims to reduce trade barriers, lower transportation costs, and make it easier for goods to flow between regions. This can boost trade and economic growth for participating countries. Many countries along the BRI lack adequate infrastructure, hindering their development. BRI's positive vision involves addressing this infrastructure deficit by building and upgrading essential transportation, energy, and telecommunication infrastructure. This can improve living standards, create jobs, and promote sustainable development.

Also, the major emphasis is on people-to-people connections and cultural exchange. It aims to promote understanding and cooperation among different cultures and nations, fostering goodwill and diplomacy through educational and cultural programs. 

As mentioned above, one of the primary economic aspects of the BRI is its emphasis on infrastructure development. CPEC is no exception, as it involves the construction of highways, railways, pipelines, and energy projects. These developments enhance connectivity and reduce transportation costs, fostering economic growth in the region.

CPEC provides a shorter and more efficient trade route for Chinese goods to reach the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. This route significantly reduces transit times compared to the traditional maritime route through the South China Sea, benefiting China's export-oriented economy.

One should also keep in mind that Pakistan faces chronic energy shortages, which hinder its economic growth. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), considered a flagship program under BRI, includes many energy projects aimed at addressing Pakistan's chronic energy shortages, improving the country's energy infrastructure, and boosting its economic development. These energy projects encompass various sources of power generation, including thermal, hydroelectric, and renewable energy.

Promoting renewable energy is another area where China and Pakistan are focusing under BRI & CPEC. As electricity tariffs are rising in Pakistan, the promotion of renewable sources could make a lot of difference in the monthly bills of the end user. Energy projects under CPEC are playing a vital role in addressing Pakistan's energy challenges, improving its energy security, and supporting its economic growth.

CPEC also encourages economic diversification in Pakistan by attracting foreign investments in various sectors, including manufacturing, agriculture, and technology. This diversification reduces Pakistan's reliance on a few industries and fosters a more balanced and resilient economy.

Gwadar Port is a critical component of BRI & CPEC, offering China an alternate and shorter trade route to the Middle East and Africa. It also provides Pakistan with a deep-sea port that can potentially rival regional ports like Dubai and Singapore. The development of Gwadar will create a trans-shipment hub, boosting trade and commerce for both countries. Chinese investments in Pakistan have surged through the BRI. These investments come with favorable terms and conditions, providing Pakistan with access to capital for various projects without becoming heavily indebted. China also benefits by diversifying its investment portfolio. CPEC includes the construction, expansion, and improvement of various road networks and highways throughout Pakistan. These projects enhance connectivity between China, Pakistan, and neighboring countries.

BRI promotes regional connectivity, benefiting neighboring countries like Afghanistan and Central Asian states. It facilitates trade and economic cooperation, which can stabilize politically volatile regions, promoting peace and development.  It is not just an economic venture; it also has significant geopolitical implications. It strengthens China's influence in the region while balancing India's regional power. For Pakistan, it fosters a closer strategic partnership with China, increasing its security and diplomatic leverage.

BRI is not only for Pakistan, but it can be beneficial for all the region. The West's dominance can be challenged and all the vicious tactics can be cancelled out which in my opinion, is the need of the hour.  

In conclusion, BRI represents a monumental vision for a more interconnected, prosperous, and cooperative world. Through its emphasis on economic development, trade facilitation, infrastructure improvement, cultural exchange, global connectivity, poverty alleviation, and environmental sustainability, the BRI seeks to address some of the most pressing challenges facing our planet today.

By investing in infrastructure and development projects across multiple continents including the Indian subcontinent and Africa, the BRI is not only fostering economic growth but also nurturing diplomacy and understanding among diverse cultures and nations. It is a testament to the idea that we can build a more inclusive and harmonious world through collaboration and shared goals.

While the BRI is not without its challenges and concerns, it has already made significant strides in bridging gaps and creating opportunities for nations to work together towards common prosperity. As we continue to navigate the complexities of our globalized world, the positive vision of the BRI serves as a beacon of hope, reminding us that when we join hands and resources, we have the potential to create a better future for all.

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