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Press Release: BOI to establish state of the art SEZs


Prime Minister’s Office
Board of Investment
(Media Section)

22nd December 2017 Islamabad: “To accelerate the pace of inclusive economic growth, Pakistan should learn from the experiences of China and Malaysia in creating Special Economic Zones and Economic Corridors’. This was stated at a workshop on Special Economic Zones (SEZs) as Drivers of Economic Development organized by CAREC Institute in collaboration with Board of Investment, Government of Pakistan from 20-22 December, 2017 in Marriot Hotel, Islamabad. Approximately 35 mid to senior level officers from federal, provincial and regional governments participated in the training. The workshop was organized in several sessions focusing on the design, implementation and management of SEZs across the region. Mr. Sanjaasuren Bayara, Director of CAREC Institute gave the overview of the workshop in his welcome remarks and explained CAREC Institute’s role in capacity building and knowledge sharing among the 11 CAREC countries.  Mr. Naeem Y. Zamindar, Chairman, BoI while giving his inaugural remarks stated that through CPEC investment in Pakistan, China has given us a major opportunity and now we need to capitalize on this to build Pakistan into a growing and equitable economy. Dr. Yang Xiaohong, Country Director of Asian Development Bank, Pakistan Resident Mission stated that SEZs provide the opportunity to locate Pakistan in the global value chains to boost economic development. This can be attained by producing value added products. Mr. Guntur Sugiyarto, Principal Economist from Asian Development Bank gave the rationale and role of SEZs in Economic Development. He stated, “a total 40% of Pakistan’s GDP is required to convert the left-behind districts into growing economic regions over the span of next 30 years. SEZs can help Pakistan to make economic development process more inclusive across the districts and regions’. 
Addressing the session titled Design, Implementation and Management of Effective SEZs, Dr. Yang Zhenshan, Associate Professor at Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resource Research stated that for China, SEZs have helped in creating a 90% boost in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). For efficient SEZs, institutional building is of prime importance. The recipe for efficient SEZs includes localized strategies, necessary infrastructure efficient land use policies and strategic geographic positioning of SEZs. In order to reap maximum benefits, both medium and long term impacts of SEZs should be taken into account at the time of designing SEZs. Wrong SEZ strategies can harm the investors that may lead to lower FDI and can result in the failure of SEZs. Pakistan should capitalize on its existing cheap labour and land to attract investors. He further added that there is no perfect model for success, model of the SEZ should be designed as per the country dynamics and characteristics.
Mr. Guan Rong, Secretary General, Association of SEZs, Peoples Republic of China stated that in developing a SEZ, the most important stage is the initial stage where the country decides where to locate the SEZ. It should be based on market forces, depending on the availability of resources and facilities necessary to develop a SEZ e.g. infrastructure, energy and connectivity. Dr. Ziqian Liang, Deputy Director of CAREC Institute stated that SEZs are not only important for reaping economic benefits, but also for creating innovation, best practices and knowledge transfer.
Professor Tao Yitao, Director China Centre for Special Economic Zone Research, Shenzhen University, described the Chinese experience in constructing economic development and enlisted several points that helped in the process including Chinese leadership’s persistence in opening up China to international markets and introducing market reforms. Transformation from a communist model into a mixed model also led to avenues of innovation and creativity that fuelled the economic development in China. This was mainly led by the Shenzhen SEZ, which Dr. Yitao explained in detail. 
Dr. Hasri A. Hasan, Senior Director, Strategic Planning and Risk Management, Northern Corridor Implementation Authority, Malaysia stated Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are at the heart of economic development. The role of Northern Corridor Implementation Authority is to plan, promote and facilitate the implementation of economic corridor initiatives. In order to attract investment in less developed regions, Malaysia has given prolonged tax holidays to the investors. With the help of economic zoning, Malaysia has successfully developed its less developed regions.  Malaysia has also tapped on the potential of regional corridors by collaborating with Thailand based on a synergistic and complementary model by leveraging on each other’s economies to promote development. The key factor to success is supporting development plans with budget allocations in strategic national planning and ensuring inclusive development by improving skills and livelihoods of rural people. 
The 3 day workshop was taking place from 20-22nd December 2017 at the Islamabad Marriott Hotel. In the concluding session, the workshop aims to elucidate the legal and regulatory framework essential for successfully running SEZs. 
Mr. Azher Ali Choudhry, Secretary, Board of Investment made closing remarks in the concluding session and expressed firm commitment from BoI to establish state of the art SEZs through the help of provincial & regional governments for rapid industrialization in the country. He appreciated the efforts made by the CAREC institute, ADB & foreign experts for successful conduction of the training. The Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, graced the closing session as Chief Guest and awarded certificates to all the participants of the training workshop.