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Think tank analysis: Gwadar Port: A Rising Trade Hub in South Asia


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In the heart of southwest Pakistan, Gwadar deepwater port is experiencing a significant transformation that is poised to reshape regional and global trade dynamics.

As cargo operations continue to flourish, Gwadar’s strategic location and evolving infrastructure make it a pivotal element of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). With strong sea, land, and air connectivity, Gwadar is rapidly becoming a regional logistics hub, fostering integrated development across Pakistan and neighboring nations.


A Growing Trade Hub


At Gwadar Port, cargo loading and unloading have become a routine part of the bustling maritime activities. From agricultural products to essential goods and even liquefied petroleum gas, the port’s business volume has surged notably in recent times. In the first half of this year, Gwadar Port achieved container throughput of 1,162 TEUs and bulk cargo throughput of 506,800 tons, showcasing its growing significance in the region’s trade.


Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair of the Global Silk Route Research Alliance, highlights the port’s vital role in connecting the Middle East, Central Asian countries, and China, effectively linking diverse regions and creating opportunities for comprehensive development.


Reducing Distance and Time


Gwadar Port’s strategic importance extends to reducing distance and time for trade. It serves as a shorter and more efficient route for China’s western economic zones, notably Kashgar, which is 4,500 km away from Shanghai’s seaport but only 2,033 km from Gwadar. Moreover, approximately 60% of China’s oil imports originate from the Middle East. The operation of Gwadar Port significantly shortens the maritime distance from 16,000 km to 5,000 km and reduces the duration from 45 days to just 10 days. Pakistan stands to benefit substantially, with CPEC expected to generate an annual transit revenue of USD 70 billion through Gwadar Port.


Development Beyond the Port


The Gwadar Port Free Zone has allocated 2,281 acres of land for infrastructural development. The completion of the first phase, covering 60 acres, has already seen 46 enterprises registered in the Free Zone, with three companies commencing production.


Transportation has received a significant boost with the inauguration of the 19km long Eastbay Expressway. This key roadway connects the Free Zone with the national highway network, facilitating the smooth flow of imports, exports, and transit goods. Akbar Reis, Chairman of the Gwadar Fisheries Association, highlights its importance for fishermen, as the expressway provides protection for fishing boats and enhances transportation efficiency between the port and major cities.


The New Gwadar International Airport (NGIA)


The development story of Gwadar goes beyond its bustling port and newly connected roadways. The New Gwadar International Airport (NGIA) is set to become a transformative force in global trade and connectivity. Once fully operational, NGIA will establish a modern three-dimensional transportation network, combining sea, land, and air access.


The NGIA’s potential for rapid export is exemplified by Nagman Abdul, Chairman of the Gwadar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who envisions shipping packaged lobsters to China with lightning speed. This airport is set to unlock new trade opportunities and further elevate Gwadar’s status as a burgeoning trade hub in South Asia.


Conclusion: Gwadar’s Remarkable Transformation


Gwadar, aptly named “the gate of wind,” is experiencing a monumental transformation through the CPEC initiative. With its expanding port operations, advanced infrastructure, and the upcoming NGIA, Gwadar is poised to become a global trade and connectivity powerhouse. Its strategic significance in reducing trade distances and times, combined with its role as a regional logistics hub, ensures that Gwadar will continue to play a pivotal role in South Asia’s economic development and global trade networks.

Muhammad Arshad
Muhammad Arshad
Mr Arshad is is an experienced journalist who currently holds the position of Deputy Editor (Editorial) at The Think Tank Journal.

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