by: `M Arshad January 16, 2015
ISLAMABAD: Gwadar will soon be declared a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for a period of 20 to 30 years in order to facilitate rapid commercial and economic development. The concept of SEZ has yielded positive results around the world particularly in China and other South East Asian Countries with respect to accelerating local broad-based economic development. Shenzhen (China) since designation as China’s 1st SEZ in 1979, improved GDP contribution from 14 to 44 percent over a period of 26 years.
A well placed source privy to Minister for Ports and Shipping told Customs Today that the SEZ was likely to cover the city of Gwadar and the industrial areas currently planned and foreseen. The source said that Gwadar Port drew 9% of the gross income from marine and port operations each and on development of Free Zone further 15% of the gross income would be accrued to Gwadar Port.
He further added that the specific incentive-regime was likely to include general tax, no Value Added Tax (VAT) and generous incentives pertaining to business ownership and Government has already started working on this proposal. “The main purpose of this concept is to accelerate economic development and investments, both foreign and local, in general and this in turn will spur industrial development and port traffic” he added.
Furthermore, under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Program, Gwadar Port City was agreed by the two countries as a Gateway and fundamental mode of the Corridor. Optimal use of Port under this program will bring a big economic, commercial, and social change in region and all along with the Corridor in Pakistan.
The source recalled that Gwadar Port was completed in 2006 at a total cost of US $ 288.000 million and in 2007 the port operations were handed over to PSA International, a subsidiary of Port of Singapore Authority and later, in 2008 ECC decided to import wheat, urea and coal from Gwadar Port. Till date 6.04 million tons of urea and wheat have been imported through the Port.
The source said that in May 2013 the port’s operations were handed over to China Overseas Ports Holding Company Limited (COPHCL) under a Concession Agreement signed earlier with PSA. Port was partially functional and receiving ships carrying government cargo as the new port operator COPHCL has started work on operational plan. The port operator shall use not only the existing terminals and services but shall also construct additional terminals and services.
He further told that Optimal port operations will be achieved when work on port connectivity is completed, once the planned Free Zone commence operations and port operator would start transshipment businesses, these would be done in phases till 2017.