Gwadar port holds economic and strategic significance for Pakistan as well as other regional countries including China. At present, two ports of Dubai namely Al-Rashid and Jebel Ali are the largest trading hub in the region where the cargo from different countries is unloaded and distributed to the regional destinations. The location of Gwadar will undermine the importance of Dubai and other Gulf ports because of its many distinctive features.
Significance of Gwadar port is mentioned as below:
Close to international sea routes:
The immediate importance of Gwadar port is that it is located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf near international sea routes, whereas, Dubai port is situated inside the Gulf, at the diversion of around 500 nautical miles from main sea routes. Owing to its proximity to global shipping passage, the international vessels will prefer Gwadar to Dubai because it will save their time and energy cost.
Located away from Strait of Hormuz:
Besides, Gwadar port will obviate the need of international vessels to cross the Strait of Hormuz. It is a narrow and crowded passage located in the Persian Gulf. Around 2/3rd of global oil supply passes from it. At present, in order to reach Dubai port, international vessels need to cross this crucial choke point. However, Gwadar port is located away from it and provides an opportunity to the ships to avoid this time consuming and risky strait.
Connects some important regional countries with Arabian Sea:
Another major significance of Gwadar port lies in the fact that it connects Central Asian Republics (CARs), Afghanistan and China with the Arabian Sea. CARs are rich in natural resources and they need the shortest transit route to reach Arabian Sea for trade activities. For instance, in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan lay between 50 billion and 100 billion barrels of oil, plus nearly 250 trillion cubic feet of gas. They need to sell their surplus energy resources to achieve economic prosperity and Gwadar port only provides them an easy access to the international markets.
Besides, the port will also create an opportunity for the world’s largest trading nation__ China__ to reach Arabian Sea in a relatively expeditious manner. For example, Arabian Sea is 4500 km away from China’s traditional route that pass from South China Sea, while it is only 2800 km from the Port of Shanghai through Pakistan’s territory. At present, approximately 80 per cent of Chinese trade worth around $4 trillion dollars passes from its insecure route surrounded by American allies. The diversion of some portion of this trade to Gwadar will take the port to the certain new height of glory.
The same is the case with Afghanistan. It is a landlocked country and will require Gwadar for its trade activities, once peace is achieved there. Thus, the reliance of regional countries on the port will increase its significance in future.
The access to the low-cost labour also contributes to the glorious future of Gwadar. In Pakistan, labour is easily available at the rate of around $ 3-4 per day. It is relatively reasonable as compared to other ports like Dubai. The inexpensive labour will also minimize the overall expenditure of storage, handling, loading and unloading of goods. As a result, the global traders, instead of other gulf ports in the region, will prefer to unload their cargo at Gwadar to save their overall expenses.
The fact that Gwadar is a deep-sea port also increases its significance. It means, unlike regular ports, Gwadar can accommodate large ships with heavy cargo. It is imperative for the ports to qualify for unloading all types of vessels because they remain source of attractions for the global consignments.
Huge space for storage of cargo:
Gwadar port is relatively new port. There are huge swathes of empty land around it because the local people do not populously inhabit the area. Besides, it is constructed by China keeping in view the latest increase in trade activities among the countries. As a result, it will have more storage capacity for cargo that is fundamental pre-requite for the success of any port.
Located away from Indian threat:
Gwadar port is also located away from Indian aggression. It is known fact that the development of Pakistan under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is anathema to India. New Delhi has already rejected CPEC by claiming that it passes from disputed territory of Kashmir. The hesitation of Indian was further manifested in its decision to invest in Chabahar port of Iran located near Gwadar to diminish its importance. It is, therefore, if Gwadar port was located near Indian border; there would have been continuous threat of any disruption by New Delhi. However, its location, away from the easy access of India, elevates its significance.
Thus, Gwadar port is very important because it is located near international sea routes away from Strait of Hormuz, connects some important regional countries, is home to low-cost labour, is deep-sea port, possesses huge space for the storage of the cargo and is located away from Indian aggression. Since it is very beneficial for Pakistan, the government must take measures to overcome all the hurdles that impede its development and smooth functioning.