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Thursday, 10 September 2015

Pakistan leases 809ha to China for Gwadar port project

Pakistanis officials have taken the first steps to creating the country’s first free economic zone (FEZ) and developing the $622 million Gwadar port with the  leasing of 809 hectares of  land in Balochistan province to China.

The site in the south west of the country is the strategically important location for proposed deepwater hub and is part of a much larger $45.6 billion commitment made by China to infrastructure projects connecting regional transport routes.

Currently, Pakistan has only two main operating international deep-sea ports: Karachi Port and Port Qasim. Physical limitations on both these ports’ growth capacity have led Pakistani authorities to pursue construction of a third major deepwater port at Gwadar.

Further 202 hectares to be leased ‘very soon’

Pakistani officials were reported as stating that a further 202 hectares of land would be leased to China ‘very soon’ to give a total of 1,011 acres available for the FEZ, this follows the lease of 607 hectares of land in June.

“Several projects are being launched in Gwadar under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and its completion will not only the people of the two countries but also the whole region,” Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalil Ullah said.

Although Gwadar currently has only the most basic road and rail links with the rest of Pakistan as much as $10 billion of China’s investment will be used to boost multi-modal connections as part of the much vaunted CPEC project.

 “Pakistan is looking at the CPEC project as a game changer, kick starting an era of infrastructure growth and investment. The land deal is just part of the Gwadar port infrastructure that needs to develop to realise the expectations of Pakistan and China from this mega project,” Masood Khan, former Pakistani ambassador to China commented.

Last year, China signed a deal to construct an $18bn economic corridor linking Gwadar to Kashgar in China’s north-western Xinjiang province.

China aims to make the port fully functional in a bid to overtake neighbouring India which is investing heavily to turn the rival Port of Chabahar into a regional hub and develop transport infrastructure with Middle Eastern partners in UAE and Iran.

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