Groundwork laid for China-Pakistan free trade zone at Gwadar

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 18 (APP): Pakistan and China have laid the groundwork for a Trade Zone at Gwadar and preliminary plans are now being finalized.
Specific plans for the new China-Pakistan trade zone which will be the part of Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, are under discussion, to make this port the one like Hong Kong, the Shanghai Securities News has reported. The report said that China’s top economic planner, the
National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), is heading the
Chinese delegation in the discussions. A number of companies based in Zhuhai in South China’s Guangdong Province have signed deals with the city of Gwadar worth
a total of US$ 1.02 billion to develop the port, the China’s news
portal ifeng.com has reported.
Specific plans might include establishing industry parks,
which are effective in facilitating investment and trade, said Chen
Fengying, an expert with the China Institutes of Contemporary
International Relations.
“I believe that more plans will follow, and the establishment
of an FTZ at the strategically import port is an important
step,” Chen told the Global Times, a Chinese daily.
The Global Times of Beijing quoted a report that China
Overseas Ports Holding Co (COPHC) has leased over 650 acres of land
in Gwadar to build and operate the FTZ.
“That was the first part of a deal signed between the two
countries, under which Pakistan will provide a total of 2,281 acres
of the Gwadar Trade Zone to COPHC as part of a 43-year lease,” the report
mentioned.
The COPHC will operate at the trade zone through three main companies
– Gwadar International Terminal, Gwadar Marine Services and Gwadar
Freezone Company – according to the report.
The experts say the new developments in this regard
marked a milestone in the implementation phase of the China-Pakistan
Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“The new developments are by far the most important step in
the implementation of the CPEC,” Sun Lizhou, Deputy Director of the
Academy of the World and China Agendas, told the Global Times.
The CPEC is a major bilateral initiative to build
infrastructure facilities in Pakistan that will connect the
country’s Arabian Sea coast with the Himalayan border with China.
The initiative was unveiled during Chinese President Xi
Jinping’s State visit to Pakistan in April.
With low tariffs and better coordination, the Gwadar FTZ will
serve as an “entry point” for Chinese companies and products to
enter the country, Sun said.
Because of the strategic importance of the Gwadar port, the
establishment of an FTZ there is also expected to have profound
significance in the implementation of China’s “One Belt, One Road”
initiative, which will connect with Europe via Central Asia, Sun
noted.
“On the shores of the Arabian Sea in the western province of
Balochistan, Gwadar is strategically a well-located port to ensure
increasing trade in the region,” the company said in a post on its
website.
Located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just outside the
Straits of Hormuz, Gwadar is close to key shipping routes
accommodating a flow of more than 17 million barrels of oil per day
and a large quantity of cargo, according to COPHC.