Afghan transit trade through Pakistan's strategically located Gwadar port became operational on Friday with the first cargo ship berthing at the port, in a first sea trade between the two countries.
Adviser to Prime Minister for Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood announced the development on social media. The cargo ship SIBULK TRADITION has berthed at Gwadar, carrying 16,000 tonnes of urea for transit to Afghanistan. This is a first and marks the beginning of a new era in Pakistan's trade by sea, he tweeted.
The transhipment of goods to Afghanistan through Gwadar port, which offers a much shorter overland link particularly to southern regions of the war-torn nation, assumes significance as it is located close to Chabahar, the Iranian port being developed by India to ship its cargo to Afghanistan.
The advisor said that for the first time, bagging will be done locally instead of foreign ports. Urea will be bagged and shipped on trucks to Afghanistan at Gwadar, which will generate employment for the locals.
Dawood further said that instructions have already been passed to allocate all labour jobs to local population of Balochistan. Officials said that Afghanistan will be granted permission for the transit trade of sugar and wheat from Gwadar, while trucks carrying fully sealed consignments will only be allowed to go to the neighboring country.
The trade commenced under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement-2010. The strategically located Gwadar port is being developed by China as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The CPEC connecting China's resource rich Xinjiang province with Gwadar port is regarded as the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, which is aimed at furthering Beijing's influence abroad with infrastructure projects funded by Chinese investments all over the world.
Afghanistan relies on Pakistani overland routes and Karachi and Port Qasim ports for international trade under a bilateral deal with Islamabad.
As Pakistan has closed the land route for Indian goods to be transported to Afghanistan through the Wagah border, India has started developing Chabahar port in cooperation with Iran for its shipments to and from Afghanistan.