By Hu Weijia
China and the US should tap the potential for cooperation under the One Belt, One Road (B&R) initiative, taking the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a starting point.
Bloomberg reported recently that China is overtaking the US as the largest foreign investor in Pakistan. The US has been gradually losing its dominance of foreign direct investment into the South Asian nation at a time when the Pakistani economy is steadily improving.
Pakistan is currently seeing growth in various sectors like cement, steel, automobiles and electronics. For example, Pakistan’s annual output of steel is in a range from 5-6 million tons, but large-scale infrastructure projects under the CPEC have boosted annual demand for steel in the country to 8 million tons, according to an article published on the website of the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan. The UK and some other countries are currently eyeing investment opportunities in Pakistan and have expressed an interest in partnering with the CPEC, which is a flagship project of the B&R initiative, but the US has lagged behind.
Washington’s sceptical attitude toward China’s B&R initiative is one of the reasons why US companies have yet to take a bigger share of Pakistan’s burgeoning market. In this context, China and Pakistan could encourage enterprises’ cooperation to allow more US firms to participate in major infrastructure projects under the CPEC.
Companies from China and the US share great potential for cooperation in fields like the green energy sector and it can be expected that business success achieved by US firms in the South Asian country will eventually influence Washington’s attitude toward the CPEC.
We believe that China, which is a latecomer among big powers including the US in terms of developing economic ties with Pakistan, will be happy to see more US firms take part in projects under the CPEC. US companies’ rich experience in investment in the South Asian country could boost the progress of the CPEC.
As for Pakistan, it is clear that Islamabad also hopes its cooperation with Beijing will have a positive effect in persuading other countries to increase their investment in the country.
With its efforts in stepping up industrialization along the CPEC, Pakistan is integrating itself into the global industrial chain. Although Asia’s integration will be a very slow process, reconstruction of the Asian industrial chain is likely to reshape the global economic landscape. Countries who refuse to participate in the process will suffer as a result.
Hopefully the decreased presence of US investment in Pakistan will ring alarm bells for Washington to rethink its strategy toward the CPEC and other projects in China’s B&R initiative. – (Global Times)
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