Developing a Competitive Agriculture and Agro-based Industry under CPEC
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was largely conceived as a transport and energy project, rather than a possible engine of growth with better regional connectivity. It is critical to establish a clear narrative regarding Pakistan’s economy in the future—trading or manufacturing nation or following prior approaches of import substitution. Experts suggest in the short to medium term it is more feasible to harvest the low-hanging fruit and for this reason the long-term CPEC plan 2017–2030 has cited agriculture as a priority sector. Pakistan’s federal government under the leadership of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insafe party is aggressively identifying procedures to provide a much-needed boost for the sector and utilize CPEC as a growth vent. In that regard, this chapter is primarily concerned with the development of competitive agriculture and agro-industry in priority regions. To establish competitiveness, trade policies must be given priority. This chapter looks at two aspects of CPEC through an agricultural lens: (1) how to unlock the agricultural potential of the country in some traditional crops, livestock and horticulture; and (2) value addition and the present and prospective agricultural trade regime and future potential, especially in the light of CPEC’s better connectivity. Pakistani agriculture is largely producing low-value crops and trade is dominated by agriculture and agro-based products and would continue to be so for some time to come. The chapter also highlights that the identified clusters of agriculture value chains in four corridor zones, especially the central zone (Indus Basin) classified under the CPEC project which carries a comparative advantage in producing a diversified crop mix, have not been fully exploited. In order to translate this comparative advantage into a competitive advantage, there is a need not only to develop clusters of commercially viable farming, processing and service firms located in specific geographical areas, but also to adopt good global production and trade practices. This chapter aims to critically evaluate the policies and investment priorities pursued in developing CPEC in general and agriculture and agro-industry in particular.
KeywordsAgriculture Agro-business Agro-industry Agriculture zones Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Climate-smart agriculture Comparative advantage Competitive matrix Chinese investors China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) China–Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA) Gwadar Infrastructure Joint ventures Mahmood Ahmed Policy analysis matrix Private–public Sustainability Trade potential Value addition Value chain Water productivity
Mahira Khan, Research Assistant, WIT/LUMS provided analytical and editorial support in preparing this chapter, and her dedication is highly appreciated.
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