This is a review of CPEC and CPEC-related news and analysis for the week of June 4 to June 10, 2018.
- Gwadar industrial zone to begin operations by the end of this year. Zhang Baozhong, the chairman of the Gwadar port and free zone operator, said that ten industrial units will begin operating in the Gwadar Free Zone this year. Six of the ten companies are Chinese, while the remaining four are Pakistani. Among the businesses operating in the free zone will include those from the automotive and edible oil industries. All industrial plots for the free zone’s first phase have been booked. Baozhong noted that Pakistan’s electronic customs clearance platform, WeBOC, is not yet operating at the port due to infrastructural challenges. He also said that the port berth will be lengthened to 1,500 meters and the approach channels will be dredged to 17-23 meters.
- Thar coal unearthed for first time. The Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company has unearthed the first layer of the open-pit mine in the Block II area in Thar, located on the eastern periphery of the Sindh province. The milestone was achieved five months ahead of schedule.
Economy and Trade
- Pakistan devalues rupee for third time since December. The rupee dropped 3.7 percent on Monday, closing at 119.84 per dollar.
- Sino-Pak overland trade increased sixty percent in 2017. Trade between China and Pakistan through the Khunjerab border crossing grew to $578.9 million in 2017, a rise of sixty percent compared to 2016.
Chinese automobile manufacturer to assemble cargo and dump trucks in Pakistan. JW Forland, a joint venture between Pakistan’s JW Group and Foton China, plans on establishing a factory with an installed annual capacity of 30,000 units.
Japanese ambassador says Tokyo could participate in CPEC projects.
- India refuses to endorse BRI and CPEC at Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit. New Delhi was the sole SCO member to not endorse the BRI. India Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that India would not entertain a second look at CPEC.
- But India is exploring the idea of transit trade with Central Asia through Pakistan and Afghanistan. An unnamed “diplomatic source” told The Hindu that “India was exploring the possibility of connectivity to Central Asia through the Pakistan-Afghan corridor, under the SCO framework. ” This is essentially an extension of Afghan transit trade via the Pakistan-India border at Wagah to the Torkham border to Central Asia. India would likely demand overland rights through Pakistan for exports to Afghanistan.
- Afghanistan and Pakistan to bolster intelligence and security cooperation. The two countries will send liaison officers in the other’s capitals and establish border coordination centers to monitor cross-border militant activity and verify actions against militants.
- Pakistan waves duties on Afghan fruits. Last year, Pakistan increased its duties on 120 products imported from Afghanistan. The decision has since been partially reversed, with the waving of duties on products such as apricots, pomegranates, as well as dried fruits.
- Hambantota-area airport loses its only carrier. Flydubai, a budget airline, announced that it would no longer fly to Sri Lanka’s Mattala International Airport, located near the fledgling Hambantota port.
- Malaysia scrutinizes two Chinese-funded gas pipeline projects. Budgets from the projects are nearly spent, far outpacing actual work completed.
- Outcry grows in Vietnam against 99-year leases for Chinese-operated special economic zones. In an attempt to allay the concerns of protestors, the Vietnamese prime minister said that the time frame would be adjusted.
- China and Russia establish $1 billion industrial investment fund. The fund is a partnership between China Chengtong Holdings Group and Russia-China Investment Fund, a joint venture between sovereign wealth funds China Investment Corp. and Russia Direct Investment Fund.
- China will offer $4.7 billion in loans through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
- Chalay Thay Saath, a Pakistani film released last year featuring a Chinese-Pakistani love story, is now available on Netflix. A trailer of the film is below. Check out the review at SupChina.
Updates on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Belt and Road Initiative.