Nowhere is the geo-strategic dynamic of the region more evident than in Pakistan’s port city of Gwadar. Located on the southwestern tip of Pakistan, just 70 km from Iran and 250 km from Oman, this strategically placed coastal city is quickly becoming a focal point for global powers seeking to exploit the region’s untapped potential. CPEC was about to dominate in region, but its slowed after regime change in Pakistan.
Unbeknownst to most, Gwadar has served as a gateway to Asia for explorers, traders, and colonists for roughly 500 years. From its humble origins as a fishing village built by the local Gadri tribe, Gwadar has grown over time into a thriving port town that now supports nearly 40,000 residents—many of whom are fishermen who work at the nearby Gadani Fish Harbor. As one of only two sites where fish can be caught 365 days a year (the other being Norway). It’s no wonder why so many are willing to travel long distances just to make their living here.
However, it is not just its natural beauty that makes this coastal hamlet so special; rather it is its location that makes it so invaluable. The coastline around Gwadar houses some of the world’s most important trade routes which explains why so many have been drawn here for centuries in search of fortune and opportunity. Today however, there are new players looking to make use of this strategic location and with that comes both risk and reward for all involved…
The Benefits of a Port in Gwadar
For centuries, the Arabian Sea has been the focal point for some of the world’s most lucrative trade. The long and expansive coastline provides easy access to the open sea from all major regions of the Indian Subcontinent. Additionally, its relatively shallow waters are excellent for commercial ships traveling to and from the Middle East.
A port in Gwadar will provide unfettered access to the Arabian Sea and all trade that travels through it. This will prove to be a game-changer for Pakistan who, until now, has had limited access to this crucial body of water. Traditionally, Karachi has served as the primary port for goods traveling to and from the Middle East. Currently, it’s not operational.
However, this route is 500 km south of the Arabian Sea. This means goods have to be transported over land. The entire distance in order to reach the open ocean. This has resulted in increased costs and lower efficiency which has put Pakistan at a distinct disadvantage. When competing with other regional ports. A port in Gwadar, on the other hand, will allow goods to travel along the Arabian Sea in its entirety. A distance of only 400 km. This will result in a drastic reduction in time and cost. Which will allow Pakistan to become a major player in the region’s commercial trade for the first time.
Geo-strategic Importance of the Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea is the largest body of water between Asia, Africa, and Australia. That is home to 23% of the world’s total marine trade. It is the most heavily trafficked sea in the world with trillions of dollars. In goods flowing through its waters each year. Because of its central location in the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal. The Arabian Sea is the most efficient and economical route for trading goods between Asia, Africa, and Europe. By using the Arabian Sea, ships can cut down travel time by 60% when compared to the Pacific Ocean and 80%. When compared to the Atlantic Ocean.
Additionally, the Arabian Sea’s waters are mostly calm and shallow making it the ideal location for commercial ships. When compared to the Pacific Ocean where 95% of ships are small or medium-sized, only 40% of ships sailing in the Arabian Sea are small or medium-sized. This is largely due to the fact that larger ships can navigate the Arabian Sea’s shallow waters more safely and efficiently.
Moreover, roughly 80% of the world’s oil supply travels through the Suez Canal which is located in the southern part of the Arabian Sea. This makes the sea’s southern coastline particularly strategic to global powers as it allows them to monitor oil supply and minimize the risk of an oil spill. While it is important to note that the northern coastline is equally critical to the health of the Arabian Sea as it houses the Gulf of Oman which is the Arabian Sea’s primary waterway.
Currently, Asia accounts for roughly 50% of global GDP. It is projected, however, that by 2050 that number will increase to 80% as other regions of the world stagnate and Asia’s economy continues to soar. A port in Gwadar would have direct access to this thriving trade and would surely provide a significant boost to Pakistan’s economy as a result.
Pakistan’s Opportunity in Gwadar
As discussed above, a port in Gwadar will allow Pakistan to compete globally for the first time. Traditionally, Karachi has served as the primary port for goods traveling to and from the Middle East. However, this route is 500 km south of the Arabian Sea which means goods have to be transported over land the entire distance in order to reach the open ocean.
This has resulted in increased costs and lower efficiency which has put Pakistan at a distinct disadvantage. When competing with other regional ports. A port in Gwadar, on the other hand. Will allow goods to travel along the Arabian Sea in its entirety—a distance of only 400 km. This will result in a drastic reduction in time and cost which will allow Pakistan to become a major player. In the region’s commercial trade for the first time. CPEC provides good support as well.
China’s Plan – CPEC
There is no denying that China has become a major economic powerhouse. In recent years and, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The country has been keen to diversify its investment portfolio. As such, it has begun looking to the Middle East for new commercial opportunities. That has identified the Arabian Sea as the focal point for its expansion. For the past decade, China has been steadily building and modernizing its southern coastline in an attempt to dominate the Arabian Sea. Pak China plan is all about CPEC.
The Gwadar Port Authority has been a major part of this initiative. It will represent a significant shift in global trade and will allow China to capture a large portion. Which is the commercial market that currently belongs to the Middle East. CPEC puts great step between the friendship of Pakistan and China,
The is because China will be located at the heart of the Arabian Sea at which point they can access the Suez Canal and thereby compete directly with major trade hubs in Europe and Africa. This will essentially allow China to trade directly with the Mediterranean and Red Seas without having to pass through the Indian Ocean. Now CPEC is here for changing Pakistan’s future. That’s why CPEC could be the game changer.
The coming decades will see the Arabian Sea emerge. As a new trade and economic hub in the Indian Ocean and this will inevitably have effects on global trade. As the focal point for commercial activity in the Arabian Sea. The port in Gwadar will become a major player and will drastically increase Pakistan’s attractiveness as a trade partner. With increased access to commercial traffic. Pakistan will be able to benefit from an influx of investment. A reduction in transportation costs which will have a significant positive impact on the country’s economy.
Moreover, the development and construction of the Gwadar Port is expected to create nearly 100,000 jobs and will provide a major boost to Pakistan’s flagging economy. The completion of this port will signify a significant shift in the country’s economic outlook and will greatly benefit both its people and its global image. Regime change in Pakistan impact CPEC progress.
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