Free Trade Zones

Why Bangladesh should use the port of Gwadar – OpEd – Eurasia Review


The Pakistani port of Gwadar has brought a new dream to the region. This port is not only for Pakistan but also for all states in the region. Chinese investment has accelerated the pace of aspirations in this regard. China’s multibillion-dollar “CPEC” project is linked to the port of Gwadar. This port creates a kind of possibilities and potentials for all of South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, Eurasia, East Asia and the Middle -East.

Bangladesh is an economic miracle and a burgeoning star in South Asia. The country, under the leadership of its Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed, is moving forward. There are many industries, businesses in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is the largest exporter of ready-to-wear (RMG). Its clothing industry is booming. So he needs cotton. But cotton production in Bangladesh is very low. Therefore, it also imported cotton from West China, Central Asia and Pakistan. But Bangladesh has no direct connectivity, no shipping lines with these states. Bangladesh now uses the Strait of Malacca to import and export from China. Singapore port used. Thus, importing cotton from western China is very expensive for Bangladesh.

On the other hand, Bangladesh exports medicine, clothing, frozen food, halal food and potatoes to various countries. Bangladesh exports a large number of clothing, potatoes and mangoes to Russia and the states of Central Asia. Otherwise. It imports cotton, wheat from Russia and Central Asian states. Recently, Bangladesh and Russia agreed to strengthen their trade relations. Bangladesh wants to export mangoes to Russia and import fertilizers from Russia. But the cost of air travel between these states is very high.

Bangladesh can use the facilities at the port of Gwadar. Bangladesh can use the Pakistani port of Gwadar to increase trade with Central Asia, West China and Pakistan. The Pakistani port of Gwadar will become a regional trade hub in the region. Bangladesh can easily reach West China, Central Asia and Pakistan. Pakistan has some regional connectivity with the Central Asian states through Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is now viable and politically stagnant. The Taliban have formed a government. Regional states, including China and Russia, are interested in investing in infrastructure development and connectivity in Afghanistan. Bangladesh can also play a role by participating in the development process in Afghanistan.

Therefore, Bangladesh should use the port of Gwadar to reach these countries to secure its own business interests. There could be problems between Bangladesh and Pakistan. But the two governments of those two states should resolve it for their own mutual benefit. Pakistan should play an important role in this regard. He has responsibilities to Bangladesh. It must be understood and realized. But these problems must be resolved diplomatically with bilateral efforts.

The Pakistani port of Gwadar is of very strategic importance. China and Pakistan are working together to establish the “Port of Gwadar”, a regional hub. By using the port of Gwadar, Bangladesh can easily access the markets of Central Asian states, western part of China, Pakistan, even Afghanistan and western Asian states.

Bangladesh products can be exported to imported from these regions easily. Raw materials for the garment sector (cotton) can be easily imported from Pakistan and Central Asian states. In this way, trade relations between Bangladesh and other Muslim countries will be strengthened. Economic ties between Bangladesh and Pakistan will be further strengthened.

There is no sea link between Bangladesh and Pakistan. Bangladesh imports raw materials and products from western China and Central Asian countries via Singapore via the Strait of Malacca or by air. Thus, the cost of transportation and the waste of time are huge for Bangladesh.

Bangladesh can easily overcome this by using the Pakistani port of Gwadar. Bangladesh already joined the China-led BRI project in 2017. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are all members of the Chinese BRI project. If Bangladesh ports such as Chittagong (Chattogram), Payra, Mangla can be connected to Pakistani port of Gwadar, Karachi port or Qassim port via Sri Lankan port of Colombo or Hambantota, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka would benefit. Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Central Asian states would also benefit.

All of Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia would benefit. ASEAN and SAARC free trade zones could be created. Bangladesh could benefit in the long run. Bangladesh’s dependence on India will be reduced. Greater regional interest could be confirmed.

Why should Bangladesh use the Pakistani port of Gwadar?

  1. To ensure its own commercial interest.
  2. Strengthen economic and trade ties with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asian states, West Asian countries and even Russia and China.
  3. To reduce its enormous dependence on India,
  4. For the creation of the ASEAN and SAARC free trade zones.
  5. This connectivity could unite the free zones of ASEAN and SAARC.
  6. All states in these regions would mutually benefit in the trade sector from the counterterrorism approach to multilateral ties.
  7. Strengthening bilateral relations could contribute to the growth of trade and investment relations with ASEAN and BIMSTEC countries. This will create an opportunity to serve a greater regional interest.
  8. Restoring connectivity between the Himalayas and South Asia can happen if political and diplomatic solutions to the strained relations between Bangladesh and Pakistan can be found.
  9. The use of the port of Gwadar by Bangladesh would ensure maximum benefit to the people.

Thus, Bangladesh should use the Pakistani port of Gwadar. There is no alternative for every state in the world without being connected with the others. There is enormous potential for Bangladesh in this regard. Now is the time for Bangladesh to use it. (Pakistan today)

* Pathik Hasan, researcher and columnist based in Dhaka.