The port city constitutes a significant part of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a visit to Pakistan in May 2013, the CPEC is an important project under the Belt and Road Initiative.
The 3,000-kilometer-long corridor starts from Kashgar in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and ends at Pakistan’s Gwadar on the Indian Ocean. It connects the Silk Road Economic Belt in the north and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in the south.
CPEC has brought a tremendous opportunity to the region’s development, especially the construction of the Gwadar Port and Free Zone.
Last Thursday, in the Free Zone of Gwadar, the second session of Gwadar Expo 2019 was held with a theme of “Key to Global Opportunities”. More than 200 Pakistani and foreign enterprises from banking, building materials, chemicals, fishery processing and other fields gathered to talk about economic and trade cooperation and exploration of development opportunities.
The Gwadar Free Zone will be completed in 2030. After completion, the Free Zone will utilize the rich fishery and mineral resources of Baluchistan Province to develop fishery, stone processing industry and metal manufacturing industries.
Last Friday, the ground was broken for the construction of China-funded New Gwadar International Airport, which would link the fast-rising Gwadar with the rest of the world.
The 230-million-U.S. dollar project, fully funded by the Chinese government under the CPEC program, will be completed in three years, according to the officials.
The new airport, covering an area of 18 square kilometers, will be constructed by the China Airport Construction Group.
“The runway [of the New Gwadar International Airport] will meet the highest standards in the world, or the so-called ‘4F'[in terms of small longitudinal and transversal slope] in the industry. The airport will also be able to handle the largest aircrafts in the world, including the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8. The terminal has 14,000 square meters and the first-stage project is expected to handle 500,000 passengers per year. The design also allows flexible and sufficient space for further development in the future,” said Tian Ren, chief engineer of the New Gwadar International Airport project.
The finance sector has also seen a great boost. Habib Bank is the largest bank in Pakistan and has been providing solid support for China-Pakistan business exchanges in the past few years.
“Because we have a physical presence in the form of a branch, a rep office in China. So we can actually do inwards intermediation. So we deal with the Chinese investors and companies here, but we also have the ability to talk to them in their respective head offices to identify opportunities, and then follow through in terms of execution in Pakistan,” said Muhammad Aurangzeb, president and CEO of Habib Bank Limited.