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How Gwadar port will catalyze development in Balochistan?

Balochistan is the most backward province, which is also far behind from other provinces in economic development. The least developed province lacks infrastructure that discourages investment for industrial development. The existing road network in Balochistan is in a dire need of maintenance and repair. A coordinated network of roads does not interlink 32 districts in the province and hence there are missing links between economic centers in Balochistan. The limited road access and lack of road network affect the people of rural areas reducing their access to markets. So if the mega development projects go on and complete in time and Gwadar port becomes fully operational as hub port, it will change the fortune of the most backward and the country’s poorest province. On the other hand, if the terrorist activities sabotaging the province mega development process gets boost in the next few years, it will be a disaster for the least developed province of Pakistan.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) involves construction of highways, railways and energy pipelines connecting western China with Pakistan and the Persian Gulf. The two countries signed 51 deals worth billions of dollars mostly relating to the CPEC project. There are no two opinions that the CPEC is going to be a game changer for investment-starved Balochistan. Gwadar free port project promises more development projects in different sectors of Balochistan economy. Commerce, industry, trade and economic activities would receive a boost after the development of two-phased seaport in the province. Naturally the local people will benefit from the economic activities underway in their areas. The living standard of the local people would improve owing to the development projects in different economic sectors related to the Gwadar port.

Owing to the development of Gwadar port, a huge investment in infrastructure sector promises a brilliant economic future for the development of industry in the province and it will bring about a revolution in its communication sector. The project would initiate a mega development process with huge investments, which could make the province a new economic frontier of the country.

The CPEC and Gwadar port are expected to usher in a new era of industrial development in Balochistan. Balochistan possesses enormous industrial potential in key sectors — agriculture, livestock, fisheries and minerals. There are greater investment opportunities in all sectors of provincial economy for exploiting the industrial potential of the province. A large number of agro-based, livestock-based, fisheries-based and mineral-based industries can be set up in the province.

A fully operational Gwadar port will boost industrialization process in the province. With the functioning of industrial zone, Gwadar would become a hub of industrial and trade activities. The government has also reserved 3000 acres of land for the development of Gwadar Industrial Estate (GIE) to meet the demand of industrial plots. The government plans to establish a zone for the promotion of small and medium industries under the auspices of SMEDA in Gwadar. It also plans to open branches of banks and DFIs for making available loan financing to the intending entrepreneurs.

Establishment of Free Trade Zone, and Export Processing Zone (EPZ) will open the doors for investment and development of small, medium and large scale industries generating revenue for the government and providing profitable avenues for both the skilled and non-skilled workforce in Balochistan.

Known as the country’s fruit basket, Balochistan contributes 90% national production of grapes, cherry and almonds, 60% of peach, pomegranate, apricot and 34% of apple and 70% of dates. The strategically located province offers access to new resources and markets and the prospect of more rapid growth.

The province’s geo-strategic location makes it the most attractive for transit traffic to the landlocked Central Asian Republics (CARs). Gwadar port would provide Afghanistan and the CARs the shortest and fastest access to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. The port can also provide them with warehousing facilities along with transit and possibilities of import of goods. The province offers the investors lucrative opportunities to invest in fruit farms. The development of fruit farms is essential to increase fruit exports from Balochistan. Export of fruits is considered a big source of foreign exchange.

Gwadar port is set to bring Balochistan’s coastal areas into the economic mainstream of Pakistan. It will catalyze the development process in the province bringing it at par with other provinces. Development of an integrated transport system and future road and rail links to CARs and rest of the country will enhance the local peoples’ access to new vistas of development and prosperity. A fully operational Gwadar port provides the province enormous opportunities to exploit its mineral resources, which have so far been untapped.

Gwadar seaport and the planned regional highway projects will help the province become a world-class mining center. Foreign mining firms in Balochistan have shown keen interest in bringing their cargoes through the port of Gwadar. Besides, serving as transshipment hub, it would promote the development of a refinery and petrochemical complex and other industries. ECO highway, coastal highway and other mega projects in road sector will connect Gwadar port with Central Asian states, Gulf sheikdoms and rest of the country.

The port project is expected to bring a revolution in social sector changing the socio-economic conditions of the local people and raising their living standards. Many industries have been envisaged to be established in and around Gwadar. The skilled manpower would be needed for the operation of the port and the allied industries.

According to one estimate, the Gwadar port has the potential to generate over $50 billion in transit trade annually and after becoming fully operational along with strong communication and transport links with Central Asian States, Iran, western provinces of China and commercial cities of the country, an estimated two-third population of Balochistan will become part of port-related activities.

Commerce, industry, trade and economic activities would receive a boost after the development of two-phased seaport in the province. Naturally the local people will benefit from the economic activities underway in their areas. The mega seaport project will open the doors for development of small, medium and large scale industries generating revenue for the government and providing profitable avenues for both the skilled and non-skilled workforce in Balochistan.

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