Future shipping chain will be uncompleted sans Gwadar
With the development of Gwadar Port as a fast track project, it has started catching eyes of the international seafarers due to its strategic location offering transitional shipping facilities in the region including entire landlocked for Central Asian States as well as responding to huge transitional movement between Pakistan and China, which is bound to generate huge economic activities for Pakistan.
The government officials for the first time have also initiated a showcasing campaign of the newly-developed port and organized an important conference in UAE to attract the investors by highlighting the outstanding features of the port.
“Gwadar Port is not just a port but a global necessity while the region needs Gwadar Port as it will help save significant shipment time and billions of dollars in freight saving,” echoed by top government officials and industry experts at a one-day conference held in Dubai. Addressing the ‘Investing in Gwadar’ conference, they emphasized that it’s not just a port, it is global necessity. Future global shipping chain will not be completed without Gwadar, they claimed, and added: “The potential is tremendous and a lot of opportunities as well.”
The conference was organized by Academy & Finance. Pakistani rulers were always conscious of the potential and necessity of Gwadar as an alternative port to Karachi. Nevertheless, due to financial and political constraints, the project of a commercial port at Gwadar could not be initiated until 1991, when the government finally decided to build the port.
It took yet another decade and the construction work started at the site by a Chinese company in 2001. The first phase of the port was constructed in record time by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and completed by the end of 2005. The port operations contract was then awarded, after international bidding, to PSA Gwadar. However, the company failed to deliver according to its contractual obligations and the ‘Concessional Rights’ were finally transferred to China Overseas Port Holding Company in 2013.
The conference chairman and president of Washington-based GWEST, Paul Michael Wihbey, said: “We are looking at a window of opportunity.”
Talking about the Gwadar Port potentials, Gwadar Development Authority Director General, Dr Sajjad H. Baloch, said that it is a gateway of China-Pakistan economic corridor and is strategically located near the Strait of Hormuz. It provides the closest access for Middle East oil & gas to Western China, he said, adding that it is a transshipment hub for heavy ships. It also has transit trade potential for heavy ships, and the potential to create two million jobs. A senior researcher, Dr Azhar Ahmad, said that in the long-term Gwadar Port is likely to earn enormous revenues for the province and the country by providing transit and transshipment facilities to a number of countries. It is the shortest and most feasible route to the sea for most Central Asian countries, Afghanistan and for parts of Russia, Dr Azhar Ahmad added.
Central Asian economies are still weak and it will take some time before they are able to generate substantial trade for Gwadar. Besides, the political and economic situation in Afghanistan also hinders transit access to this region. However, Gwadar has become a crucial route for China under the developing geo-political situation.
China is the second biggest economy slated to surpass the US before the end of this decade. A portion of China’s transit trade through the Gwadar-Kashgar corridor could generate substantial economic activity for the whole province.
The revenues will not only be generated by transit fees alone, but innumerable employment and business opportunities will be created along the corridor. Needless to say that once there is a road/rail and trade caravans moving over it, it automatically produces a number of opportunities.
Gwadar Port– China & Central Asian States
Sherali Janonov, Ambassador of Tajikistan during his recent visit to Karachi while highlighting the significance of Gwadar Port in the region said that besides China who has come in a big way for the development of Gwadar Port and linking road infrastructure between China and Pakistan, the Central Asian States (CAS) will be the major port users for their transit trade through this Port.
The Tajik ambassador while endorsing the upcoming Pakistan-China Economic Corridor was of the view that this economic package with the main feature of Gwadar Port is bound to be a game changer on the economic horizon in this region.
Tajikistan offers a huge market for made-in-Pakistan products, which is an opportunity for the business community to take the advantage offered by Sherali Janonov, Pakistani entrepreneurs should exploit Tajik market as there is still left a lot for them despite the fact Chinese and Indian manufacturers have captured biggest chunk of CAS (Central Asian States) market.
Tajik envoy said that this government had already written to Commerce Minister to form a joint business council but the response in this regards is still awaited. He informed that China and India are busy in boosting their trade in Tajikistan by holding trade fairs and promotional events and China has so far organized five to six exhibitions in a year while Pakistan had organized it’s only fair about 11 years back.
Tajik Ambassador said that President of Tajikistan is expected to visit Pakistan later this year and likely to visit in his quest to improve investment and business ties with Pakistan.
Emphasizing the need to effectively promote Pakistani products and services in Tajikistan, he offered to give visa on priority to the intended businessmen having recommendation from KCCI or FPCCI.
He advised the Pakistani stakeholders to change their stance of looking towards West and instead should be looking to East. Tajik ambassador pointed out that in the last meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Tajikistan was the first country to support Pakistan’s inclusion in the Organization.