Neighbouring Afghanistan began transit trade for the very first time through Gwadar’s port during the end of May this year. This historic moment was the first ever time Pakistan and Afghanistan engaged in sea trade. The trade was officiated under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement signed in 2010 and now it’s finally a reality.
Adviser to the Prime Minister for Commerce and Investment, Mr Abdul Razak Dawood, hailed the moment as a ‘new era’ between the two countries.
“The cargo ship SIBULK TRADITION has berthed at Gwadar, carrying 16,000 tonnes of urea for transit to Afghanistan. This is a first and marks the beginning of a new era in Pakistan’s trade by sea,” Abdul commented on Twitter.
In the past, Kabul transported goods relying on miles of Pakistani overland routes and the two main southern seaports of Karachi and Port Qasim for international trade. This is now the thing of the past with a fully functional deep water port in Gwadar. Although Gwadar’s main port was operational last year, Afghanistan only managed to successfully complete this cargo drop this time, since last year an attempt to make a similar transit cargo drop was thwarted by customs issues.
The origin of the initial May shipment of wheat and urea was routed from Chabahar, which is located close to Gwadar. Chabahar port was developed by India but designated as an Iranian port. This convenient location of Gwadar shortens many trade routes significantly along the southern regions of the Arabian sea.
With trade entering via the main Gwadar port, regional employment also benefits since as goods arrive, it will require further transportation through trucks, moving manually via forklift and carrying all done locally. Dawood stated that “instructions have already been passed to allocate all labour jobs to the local population” By this, he means jobs will be available for the people of Balochistan. Also, local businesses have an opportunity to thrive by supplying ships and crews passing through.
As of this time, Afghanistan will be allowed the trade of sugar and wheat through the new route. All the sealed consignments will have to be taken via a neighbouring country.
The port of Gwadar is a flagship project for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is constructing road networks, digital super highways. power plants, tax free economic zones and a major new airport in Gwadar to improve connectivity. CPEC is also assisting in maintaining close relations between China and Pakistan.