Located at the entrance of the Gulf and about 650-km from Karachi, Gwadar has immense Geo-strategic significance on many accounts. The continued unstable regional environment in the Gulf in particular as a result of the Iran/Iraq war, the Gulf war and the emergence of the new Central Asian States has added to this importance.
Considering the Geo-economic imperative of the regional changes, the ADB”s Ports Master Plan studies considered an alternate to the Gulf Ports to capture the transit trade of the Central Asian Republic (CAR) as well as the trans-shipment trade of the region.
Both Karachi and PQA were considered for such development but were found unattractive to major shipping lines due to the remoteness from the main shipping routes, the limitations of draft for mother ships and large bulk oil carriers and the comparative long turn around times. The ADB studies however considered Gwadar to have the most advantageous location for such an alternative port in the region, which could handle mother ships and large oil tankers in due course.
Keeping that aspect in view as well as the inherent strategic and economic benefits that Gwadar Port offered, the transport plan of the 8th Five Year Plan (1993-94) of Pakistan included the development of Gwadar Port as an essential element of its aims and objectives. The Government of Pakistan therefore under took technical and financial feasibility.
The Project started on 22 March 2002 is on fast track. In fact it would surprise many that with initiative and calculated risk, we have received merchant ships since January 2003 and have been able to off load hundreds of tones of cargo imported for the Project, thus saving previous time and money which otherwise is required for transportation of the same cargo by road from Karachi/PQA to Gwadar.
Keeping in view of Gwadar utmost importance Government is offering maximum incentives for investment in Gwadar to make the port a successful venture. The success of the port was only possible through provision of maximum incentives to investors, like exemption of federal taxes up to 30 years, which could further be extended for another 20 years. There was 130 free zones in different countries of the world, which had attracted foreign investment through maximum incentives Government of Pakistan offering 12 free zones like established in Turkey where a lot of incentives had been given to investors.
A number of tax concessions and facilities had already been made available to the local and foreign investors in Gwadar. The Government is offering maximum incentives for investment in Gwadar to make the port a successful venture. The port would not only play a vital role in boosting up economy of the country but would also be beneficial for poor masses of Gwadar and Balochistan. The success of the port was only possible through provision of maximum incentives to investors, like exemption of federal taxes up to 30 years, which could further be extended for another 20 years.
The government has decided to allow China and South Korea to set up their tax-free special industrial development zones (SIDZs) in Gwadar. The stop is aimed at attracting more foreign investment in the region. China, has also build a dry port at the Pakistan-China border, near the present Pakistani border point of Sust, it is located on the Karakoram Highway leading from Pakistan into Xinjiang province. It was to handle the fast growing trade to and free Chinese Western Province.
As far as the domestic benefits to Pakistan are concerned, Gwadar will supplement Karachi and Port Qasim that have already reached their handling capacity of around 20 million tones a year. The capacity requirement is projected to increase manifold by 2015. The addition of the third port will enable Pakistan not only to meet its future requirements, but it will also meet the needs of the expected global cargo traffic to and from Central Asia and Western China, and Pakistan”s other neighbouring countries.
Planners also hope that the area between Karachi and Gwadar will see a large number of industrial and other economic enterprises to serve not only the less developed province of Balochistan, and Pakistan itself, but the entire region around the new port, including neighbouring Afghanistan and Iran.
Pakistan government has decided to attract substantial local and foreign investment for which it plans to shortly announce a 15-year tax holiday in the proposed Export Processing Zone (EPZ) being planned near Gwadar port, Balochistan. A committee comprising the chief secretary Balochistan and two other federal Secretaries were currently working out a special package in order to help establish a trade and energy corridor from Gwadar to Central Asia and Gwadar to China. The government is considering providing free of cost land to those investors who will be investing $200 million and more to set up industrial units at the Gwadar Export Processing Zone (G-EPZ). The proposed incentive package that is being finalised for the Gwadar EPZ also includes this incentive for the investors who will be investing in the G-EPZ when it will be operational. Number of foreign investors has shown interest to establish mega refineries, building storage capacity and undertaking other business in Gwadar to help expedite the process of industrialistion in Balochistan province. Due to all these benefits and steps taken by government of Pakistan Gwadar will become a paradise for investors.
Source: The Nation