Gwadar port of Pakistan is a gateway to the shortest and more economical route to the landlocked Central Asian Republics (CARs). The trade from Gwadar port to CARs will reduce the distance to 50 percent as compared to the distance from Iran, and freight charges less by around 30 percent.
The increased trade activities with CARs will generate more jobs, increase tax collections because of the increase in the volume of goods.
Prime Minister Imran Khan in a statement recently said that Pakistan’s Karachi and Gwadar ports could become “the gateway to landlocked Central Asia as Pakistan provided the Central Asian Republics the shortest route to international seas”.
Mr.Khan also held out the assurance during a meeting with Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Dr.Abdulaziz Kamilov, who was on a two-day visit to Pakistan, of complete facilitation in access to Pakistani ports.
Pakistan, he said, would facilitate Uzbekistan’s access to its ports. Uzbekistan, which currently relies on the Iranian seaport of Bandar Abbas for external trade, is exploring other options and is prioritizing Pakistani ports because of short distances, its being more economical, and due to some political considerations.
The distance between Uzbekistan and Karachi is 2000 KM while Iran to Uzbekistan is 4800 KM. Similarly, Turkmenistan to Karachi is 1658 KM which is less than the distance from Karachi to Peshawar. The distance of Pakistani ports from Uzbekistan is also around 3000 KM which is quite less than its distance from Iran.
Uzbekistan is working with Pakistan on the development of two options — the first is the Trans-Afghan Railway project while the second is the road route via China. The role of Central Asian Republics in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is of great significance.
TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India) pipeline, in which Turkmenistan plays an important part, is significant for CPEC. Similarly, Tajikistan expressed its willingness to support CPEC projects, which offer much potential to its economic goals and will increase its connectivity with Pakistan.
Uzbekistan also confirmed its participation in CPEC, through which it will potentially double its energy supplies to Pakistan. As the largest Central Asian nation, Kazakhstan has indicated a strong desire to be part of CPEC, too.
CPEC will provide a gateway for the landlocked Central Asian countries to enhance their trading relationships with the world, and Gwadar Port will provide the means. The ties between Central Asia, China, and Pakistan through Gwadar Port are expected to reach new heights.
All these Central Asian countries therefore are potential partners for Pakistan and China, with immense possibilities for regional cooperation and common economic benefits.
“Hellenic Shipping News”