KARACHI: The Ministry of Commerce has advised all stakeholders that Import and Export Policy Order has been implemented through shipping procedure and instruments to operationalize trade through Gwadar Port.
In a letter dated October 15, 2019 to Pakistan Ship Agents Association, Pakistan International Freight Forwarders Association, National Logistics Cell and All Pakistan Shipping Association; the ministry noted that the trade related infrastructure at Gwadar Port is ready to handle bulk cargoes to and from Afghanistan.
“The bulk cargoes imported at Gwadar Port for onward transit to Afghanistan will be transported in containers after stuffing/loading the same into containers of international specifications,” it said.
Shams Burney, Chairman All Pakistan Bonded Carriers Association, welcomed the development and said handling of transit cargo at Gwadar Port would help reduce congestion and traffic issues at Karachi Port and Port Qasim.
“We have high hopes for Gwadar Port, which is set to become the most important port in the region and initiation of bulk cargo handling is a breakthrough for the port as well as the people of the region.”
Burney negated the impression that all transit trade would be gradually shifted to Gwadar saying that when the transit trade rules were prepared in 2010, Gwadar was included along with Karachi and Port Qasim. “Gwadar could not be utilized as it was not operational at that time. I believe all the ports would continue to deal with transit cargoes.”
“It is important that Gwadar provides proper storage and container handling facilities on competitive rates, otherwise traders would not opt for Gwadar.”
Currently, Pakistan has two main operating international deep-sea ports: Karachi Port and Port Qasim. During the coming years, their capacity expansion programs are unlikely to keep pace with the expected growth in demand, resulting in a need for a third port to fill the gap.
In particular, Karachi Port has significant physical limitations and will not be able to grow at the same speed as the national growth in demand over the coming decades. These limitations result mainly from its location, which is within the city of Karachi itself, which has seen very rapid growth over the past years.
In the case of Port Qasim, although having a large physical space for expansion, its possible speed of development is hampered by its up-stream location, which is more than 40 km from the open sea, resulting in long turnaround times for visiting ships. This is not a problem for cargoes that are linked to industries located near the port, but it carries cost-disadvantages for cargoes that have origins and destinations elsewhere.