Chinese ships loaded with cargoes sailed to overseas destination from Gwadar this week, as Pakistan activated the much-awaited deep sea port for international trade route that is seen as a rival to Iran’s port of Chabahar.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese officials gathered on the port to receive the first trade convoy from China which travelled 3,000 kilometers along the Karakoram Highway. Containers were loaded into Ships which then sailed for international destinations, formally opening the port as an international trade route.
China is investing $46 billion dollars to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which links Pakistan’s northern border with China’s Western Xinjiang region and will be used for exporting Chinese goods to world destinations through the Gwadar Port. The plan is to ultimately turn the port to a gateway for import and export for Chinse goods.
The Chinese investment has helped boost Pakistan’s economy which has been upgraded to emerging markets from frontier markets by the global MSCI index.
The port is located at the crossroads of three of the world’s most commercially important regions, the oil-rich Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia. It also lies at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just outside the Strait of Hormuz.
“Pakistan is located at the intersection of three engines of growth in Asia – South Asia, China and Central Asia. CPEC will help in integrating these regions into an economic zone offering great opportunities for people of the region as well as investors from all over the world,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said while speaking at the ceremony at Gwadar.
The economic corridor will offer the shortest possible route to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Presently, China is using Strait of Malacca for shipment that takes more than two weeks to transport goods to or from China.
Gwadar port is also seen as a rival to Iran’s Chabahar port which is being developed with the assistance of India which wants to use it for trade to Central Asia.