China-built Pakistani port begins handling Afghanistan transit trade - GulfToday

Gwadar Port begins handling of Afghanistan’s transit cargo


A general view of Gwadar port in Pakistan. Reuters

Pakistan’s newly opened southwestern Gwadar seaport has begun handling transit cargo headed to and from landlocked Afghanistan, marking a significant outcome of Islamabad’s multi-billion-dollar collaboration with China, reports said on Wednesday.

Officials said the first ship full of Afghan cargo containers reached Gwadar on Tuesday. The containers will be loaded onto trucks for transport to Afghanistan through the Pakistani border town of Chaman, VoA reported.

Kabul traditionally has relied on Pakistani overland routes and the two main southern seaports of Karachi and Port Qasim for international trade under a bilateral deal with Islamabad, known as the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA).

The recent Chinese financial and construction efforts, though, have activated the strategically located Arabian Sea deep-water port of Gwadar, which offers a much shorter overland link, particularly to southern regions of Afghan, for the rapid delivery of goods.

The port is at the centre of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is building Pakistani roads, power plants, economic zones and a major airport in Gwadar to improve connectivity between the two allied nations and the region in general.  The massive project is hailed as the flagship of Beijing’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, which has brought about $30 billion to Pakistan in direct investment, soft loans and grants over the past six years.”

CPEC and the Belt and Road Initiative are promoting regional economic ties,” said the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad while announcing the arrival of the first Afghan cargo containers at Gwadar.

Officials in Islamabad say Pakistan constitutes roughly 47 per cent of total Afghan exports, while some 60 per cent of Afghan transit trade goes through the northwestern Pakistan border crossing of Torkham. The Gwadar Port, they say, will increase the transit trade activity between the two countries.

China and Pakistan say they also plan to link CPEC to Afghanistan once the security situation improves in the war-torn neighbour.

Beijing recently announced it would fund and install modern reception centers, drinking water and cold storage facilities at Chaman and Torkham to better serve the daily movement of thousands of people as well as trade convoys moving in both directions.  China also has initiated a trilateral dialogue to help ease tensions between Kabul and Islamabad to encourage political, security and economic cooperation in the region.

Critics say Chinese infrastructure investments, however, are burdening economically struggling and debt-ridden economies, like Pakistan, with expensive loans that ultimately would turn into a “debt trap” for these nations. Islamabad and Beijing reject those concerns as misplaced.

Meanwhile Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing called on Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar here in Islamabad Wednesday.

Chinese Ambassador expressed his confidence upon Khusro Bakhtiar as former Minister for Planning & Development, viz a viz his contribution towards the expansion of phase - II of CPEC and his considerable contributions therein. He also acknowledged his dedicated efforts for giving new impetus to agricultural cooperation under CPEC. Federal Secretary, Chairman PARC and other officials of the Ministry were also present.

Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said China is eager to import meat, potato, onion, mango and cherry from Pakistan and Chinese experts will visit quarantine facilities here In February this year. Chinese Ambassador further said that China wants to build stronger socio-economic ties with Pakistan; and also wants to buy more from Pakistan. Federal Minister Khusro Bakhtiar said that we are focusing on strategically structuring agriculture under CPEC.

He added that we want enhanced productivity of cotton which has considerably plummeted, both countries could work on exchange of pest resistant, high yielding germplasm(s) of cotton and it is heartening to note that a Pak- China Centre of Excellence is going to be established in Multan with close coordination of Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) to formulate a holistic strategy for the said purpose.

Khusro Bakhtiar also apprised the Chinese Ambassador regarding the ongoing threat posed by locust and efforts to contain the menace. Minister National Food Security added that under Prime Minister’s Agriculture Emergency Program we are leaving no stone unturned to align this sector with international standards, and for that we need to equip it with modern agricultural machinery, low cost of production and modern research.  He further said that before next meeting of JWG both countries must work together to finalize the plan of execution.

News Network International

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