By Xinhua - Global Times Source:Xinhua-Global Times Published: 2018/2/5 18:08:39
For Muhammad Khan Niazi, his trip earlier last week to Gwadar, a small and remote port town in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan, was an unbelievable one.
There, he attempted to extend his seafood business from the country's largest port city of Karachi located in Sindh Province.
Niazi was busily giving out his company's pamphlets to potential clients at the first ever international expo held in the port town's free trade zone when he said that Gwadar will become a regional shipping center in the near future.
He added that by taking advantage of this opportunity and given Gwadar's excellent fishing resources, he is aiming to set up a branch in the small town so as to send his seafood to more overseas markets.
"Material prices in Gwadar are competitive and now it has a free zone, which allows us to export easily. It is good for our exporters, businessmen and people in Balochistan and Pakistan," said Niazi, who is the managing director of his family business which has been in operation for over 20 years.
The first phase of Gwadar's free zone was formally unveiled on January 29. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said during the inauguration that every harbor needs a free zone to boost its development, adding that Gwadar's free zone will link Pakistan with Central Asia and that the port town's potential has been recovered thanks to the construction of the zone.
According to the operator of Gwadar port, some 30 companies from different industries, including hotel, bank, logistics and fish processing, have entered the free zone with direct investment of about $474.3 million and are expected to generate an annual value of $790.5 million once the port is in full operation.
Ismail Sawwa, sales manager of Aqua Seafood Pasni, said during the expo that the construction of the free zone is a "big change" for Gwadar.
"You can see lots of people here who have their own works and there are a lot of opportunities for people to get jobs here in Gwadar. It is very easy when you compare with the previous years."
Sawwa said Gwadar is more developed than before and that now, it is easier for businesspeople to access international markets via the port town.
He also said that his company catches seafood around Gwadar and Pasni waters, but needs to access international markets via Karachi.
Now we can send our goods directly from Gwadar, the route is short now, and costs are also low, he said.
Witnessing the development of the port, Dostain Khan Jamaldini, chairman of the Gwadar Port Authority, believes that Gwadar is a rising city in Pakistan, soon to bridge the country with the rest of the world.
"We are bringing new life to Gwadar port, to the free zone and to the city," Jamaldini said, adding that through current development initiatives, Gwadar has been attracting more international investors