CPEC
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Pakistan’s business community is becoming increasingly disillusioned with the CPEC initiative. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was touted to be a once-in-a-generation opportunity for business and growth in Pakistan however, many businesses are experiencing difficulties in negotiating ventures with their Chinese counterparts.

Chinese culture prioritizes professionalism and competence. Their business practices stand in sharp contrast to Pakistan’s westernized corporate culture.

It comes as no surprise then that Pakistan’s business circles, given their casual air, are finding it difficult to establish relationships within China’s private sector.

Pakistani executives, accustomed to drawn out negotiations with pliable partners, are at a loss when dealing with Chinese businessmen who give no quarter when it comes to their interests.

Read More: Trump unveiled an anti-CPEC strategy, not an Afghan one

Western businessmen experienced in dealing with arcane Chinese customs warn of how easily the Chinese take offence at seemingly normal western behavior such as giving a tip or not reading a business card given to them by a Chinese executive.

It comes as no surprise then that Pakistan’s business circles, given their casual air, are finding it difficult to establish relationships within China’s private sector.

The elation that came after the announcement of “One Belt One Road” initiative has given way to despair as Chinese businesses have shunned the private sector in favor of dealing with the government.

This has led many in the business community to approach the government so that it may mediate a deal between them and the Chinese.

But culture clash is not the only factor at play. Private investment in infrastructure development in Pakistan has historically been low. Due to mercurial government policies which favor politically motivated projects rather than commercially viable ones, investors are unwilling to take the risk of getting caught up in a project which they may have to abandon if a new government is elected.

Couple that with predatory taxation practices which target wealthy investors, you end up with an extremely hostile environment to conduct business.

Enterprising young Chinese men and women hope that they may be able to find a fertile market in Pakistan for gadgets that electronics that may be locally produced.

Currently, 59 projects have been initiated under CPEC: 17 in the energy sector, 11 in Gwadar, eight in infrastructure, two digital projects, four related to rail-based transit, six provincial road projects, and others in port, water, and mining. And nine special economic zones, with two related to social development.

Read More: CPEC and Pakistan’s concerns: New policy for Chinese citizens

In all of these projects, the private sector has nominal influence.

Apart from established Chinese corporations, young entrepreneurs from China have also started to arrive in Pakistan in search of new markets. Chinese manufacturing and services industry is highly saturated and fiercely competitive. Enterprising young Chinese men and women hope that they may be able to find a fertile market in Pakistan for gadgets and electronics that may be locally produced. Several language schools have been inaugurated by Chinese under the CPEC initiative while others have set up consultancy firms in multiple metropolitan cities.

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