KARACHI: The country’s business community needs to seriously plan about the impact of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the strategies, long term benefits, and business preparedness for the new opportunities and challenges. This was said by business leaders after report of a survey was published. The survey, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), was conducted amongst 500 finance professionals and business stakeholders. The report also took into account the outcomes from 5 SWOT workshops in Balochistan, KP, Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad. It would be vital to ponder where the businesses need to invest or allocate resources to capitalise on the future, businessmen said. Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) Regional Head of Policy Arif Masud Mirza said that almost 70 percent people surveyed agreed that new skills would be needed in the future and 74.4 percent said that there was a marked difference in the business styles of Chinese and Pakistani businessmen. Over 80 percent agreed that investing in Chinese language was desirable but on the ground were not witnessing the investment. For the last 3 years the business community and finance professionals had been discussing the economic benefits of CPEC, he said. We all know about various projects that make up CPEC such as the Gwadar Port extension and modification of Karakoram Highway, new motorways, railways, enterprise zones and energy plants. Under a joint initiative with the country’s leading think tanks, Pakistan-China Institute (PCI) Executive Director Mustafa Hyder Sayed said that the report indicated that investment in people should be embedded in the long-term mission of private and public sectors. Steps such as teaching Mandarin, understanding Chinese business culture and increase networking should be taken, Sayed said. Pakistan’s manpower, professional, skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour should match or be better than their Chinese counterparts’ if the country is to ensure that CPEC’s long term benefits would not start heading south, he said. ACCA Pakistan head Sajjeed Aslam said, “We could see and hear chatter on CPEC in professional networks very early on and a lot was hearsay which in itself can be a risk for businesses, the numbers being talked about were historic by Pakistani standards, $46 billion going on to be $62 billion later”. The SWOT revealed a common trend such as knowledge gaps. According to the report: opportunities included regional trade and commerce, new cities and job creation; strengths included leveraging on the country’s educational institutes, scaling up agriculture and tourism; and lastly, the threats revolved around environmental, social and governance challenges. Malik Mirza after interaction with was of the opinion that SWOT remained a great way to get people to think strategically and ensure that country would not just look at a blue sky. Published in Daily Times, October 11th 2017.