Trade Diplomacy

Pakistan provides a Gateway for Asia’s Development

Alia Shamsi

Disintegration of Soviet Union in late 1980s had changed the bipolar world order. The collapse of USSR allowed USA to enhance its position. With the concept of  democratic idealism, United States encouraged the democratic and liberal values across the globe and this resulted in a complex and multifaceted phenomenon of globalization. This led to interaction among different nations in form of international trade, ideas and cultural exchange has flourished. So the intensification of cross-national cultural, economic, political, social and technological interactions led to the establishment of closer cooperation. While, in the realm of economy protectionist and centrally controlled economies were opened up and became less regulated capitalist economies which also encouraged entrepreneurs to play a role in the economic process. . Here it is important to mention that advancement in the modes of transportation and communication technology also paved the way for globalization.

Parallel to it the concept of regional integration emerged and different intergovernmental organizations were come into being in different corners of the globe.  These organizations were formed for cooperation in multiple fields economy, and security. Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was one of  which aimed to promote healthy relations among the member states and ensuring peace, security and stability in the region. SCO further emphasizes on strengthening mutual confidence and effective cooperation in politics, trade, economy, energy, transportation, tourism and culture. Initially, SCO was comprised of six states i.e. China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In 2017, Pakistan and India also joined SCO. Along with its 8 members, Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia are the observer states while Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey are its dialogue partners. In 2005 SCO has signed an MOU with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for economic and financial cooperation.  

Chinese Belt and Road project with its two main variants; 21st century maritime Silk Road and Silk Road Economic Belt gave a golden opportunity for Asian states to further enhance their socio-economic ties. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) provides a wide range of connectivity between different corners of Asia. The Largest population, industrial growth and excessive energy recourses make Asia a future hub of geo­

economics and geopolitics. Cooperation among regional states under regional organizations like SCO, ASEAN, Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) can make integration more feasible and viable. For instance ASEAN states with huge industrial potential can be benefited from rich energy resources of Central Asian Republics which are member states of ECO and SCO.

Similarly skilled labour force of South Asia and China can boost industrial growth at

wider level. In this context, the prime geopolitical location of Pakistan makes it a key player in the region and that is why China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is considered a flagship project. On one hand CPEC provides an opportunity to Pakistan to improve links with Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East and Europe while on the other hand it is an opportunity to link East Asian economies with energy rich Central Asian Republics through 21st century maritime Silk Road.  Geostrategic location of Gwadar makes it a strategic gateway to the untapped world of North and Central Asia. Gwadar would be instrumental in Indo-Pacific sea lane of communication from where 80% energy resources transit towards eastern hemisphere of the world.

Economic corridors have emerged globally as tools of regional cooperation and development. Intergovernmental forums in the region like SCO and ASEAN could benefit from this development  and promote connectivity projects to enhance further cooperation in the region to achieve larger development goals. 21st century is known as the Asia’s century and Pakistan’s prime geo­economic location and huge economic potential is in the middle of Asia it is launched in Asia and it will ultimately connect Asia to the world.