The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is still a work in progress, but it has already helped Pakistan’s economy climb several notches on the global competitiveness scale.
That’s according to a just published World Economic Forum Report (WEFR), which placed Pakistan 115th out of the 137 countries ranked.
While this ranking is still low compared to neighboring countries, it’s a big improvement from the 122th position the country occupied last year, and the 133th position back in 2014 — see tables.
Competitiveness Ranking 2017-18
Source: World Economic Forum
Pakistan’s Competitive Ranking For Selected Years
One reason for this improvement is Pakistan’s progress in the infrastructure “pillar” of the report, where the country is ranked 110th.
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Paradoxically, while Pakistan climbed in the infrastructure “pillar,” its CPEC partner moved in the other direction. China’s score for the infrastructure pillar decreased for the second year in a row, due in part to a decline in the quality of port infrastructure and the reliability of electricity supply.
That’s certainly not a good sign for the future of the CPEC partnership. It raises doubts as to whether the project will ever be completed without leaving Pakistan deep in debt. Besides, CPEC faces other challenges — like India’s claims over areas crossed by the enormous project, and from the persistence of corruption on both sides of the partnership, as was discussed in a previous piece.
It’s these doubts, together with the persistence of corruption, that have tempered investor enthusiasm over the country’s climb in the global competition scale.