Why should Bangladesh use Pakistan’s Gwadar Port? | By Pathik Hasan, Dhaka


Why should Bangladesh use Pakistan’s Gwadar Port?

BANGLADESH would benefit from utilizing Pakistan’s Gwadar port. Pakistan’s Gwadar Port is situated in a strategic location which is considered as a strategic hub amongst South Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, Eurasia and the Middle Asia even to some extent East Asia (Western and Central part of China). Bangladeshi products can be exported to Central Asian States, West Asian States, Central Asian States, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Western and Central China. Bangladesh’s apparels, leather products, frozen foods, jute-made products, medicines, mangoes and potatoes are in heavy demand in the markets of the above-mentioned countries.

On the other hand, Bangladesh needs cotton as raw materials to meet the demand of the garment industry. Bangladesh is moving forward because of expanding its garment industry and labour resources. Bangladesh is one of the top apparel exporters in the world. Every year, it receives a huge number of remittances from the Bangladeshi expatriate community abroad.

Central Asian, Russian, Pakistani, Chinese wheat and cotton have huge demand in the Bangladesh market. Pakistani Sherwani and food also have huge demand in the Bangladesh market. Bangladesh can easily import the above-mentioned products from these countries.

Bangladeshi ports can be connected to Pakistani ports via Sri Lankan ports. Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka all are active members of the Chinese great project ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a 2442-km-long commercial project from Gwadar in Pakistan to Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang province. The cost of the project is estimated at $60+ billion. To deliver oil and gas through the medium in a short time, Bangladesh can easily enter into the markets of Central Asian, West Asian, Eurasian markets using Gwadar Port and China-run ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’. Pakistan is trying to connect the Gwadar Port with Central Asian, Iran, Russia, and Eurasian States through Afghanistan. There are some railway connectivity projects as well.

Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan have already signed (in February 2021) a roadmap for a multi-billion-dollar rail project that is expected to boost trade relations between Central and South Asia. There is potential regarding reconnection of Bangladesh with the Central Asian States and Russia through Pakistan’s Gwadar project.

On the other hand, according to reports appearing in a section of the press, the governments of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan are trying to revive a transnational rail service linking Istanbul, Tehran and Islamabad. The ITI transnational railroad is expected to enhance connectivity with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by providing a rail connection between China and Turkey.

If Bangladesh connects it’s Chittagong, Mangala and Payra ports with Pakistan’s Karachi and Gwadar ports through Sri-Lanka Hambantota and Colombo ports, Bangladesh would benefit more. Bangladesh can easily do it because it has already joined BRI in 2017. The whole of South Asia, including Bangladesh, would benefit if the projects are implemented truly. Therefore, it creates a reconnection opportunity for Bangladesh with Pakistan, China, Central Asia and Eurasian region.

Then Bangladeshi goods can easily enter into the markets in the region using Pakistan’s Gwadar ports. Bangladesh-Pakistan trade and economic ties will boost up. Bangladesh can take part in the development process in Afghanistan. A Bangladeshi NGO “BRAC” is working in Afghanistan now. Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, Iran, Central Asian states can work together in the infrastructural development process in Afghanistan.

There might be some political and bilateral problems between Bangladesh-Pakistan. But a bilateral solution, of course, can be found through diplomatic channels. The two parties have to realize the current world geo-political situation. The ties and connections are very necessary for ensuring the mutual interest of almost 395 million people. The entire South-East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia would benefit. ASEAN and SAARC free trade zones could be created.

What will be the benefit to Bangladesh? 1. Employment opportunities will increase, 2. Infrastructure development will increase, 3. There will be less dependence on financial aid given by India. Dependence on India will be overcome hugely. During the onion crisis period, Bangladesh understood this reality.  Pakistan provided onion to Bangladesh at that time. But Bangladesh faced complexity because there is no direct shipping connection (Line) with Pakistan. 4. Efforts will be made to put pressure on India due to good relations between Pakistan and China. 5. Economy will get momentum

Bangladesh should use Pakistan’s Gwadar Port for the following reasons: (1) For ensuring its own business interest. (2) To strengthen the economic and trade ties with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asian States, West Asian countries and even Russia and China. (3) To decrease its huge dependence on India, 4. Connectivity could unite the ASEAN and SAARC free trade zones. (5) All the states in these regions would benefit mutually in trade and counter-terrorism approach from multilateral ties. (6) Enhancing bilateral relations could contribute to the growth of trade and investment relations with ASEAN and BIMSTEC countries. This will create an opportunity to serve greater regional interest. (7) Re-establishing the Himalayan-South Asian connectivity can occur if political and diplomatic solutions of Bangladesh-Pakistan ties can be found. (8) Usage of Gwadar Port by Bangladesh would ensure the maximum benefit of the people.

Therefore, Bangladesh should use Pakistan’s Gwadar Port. There is no alternative for each and every state in the world without being connected with others. There is a huge potential for Bangladesh in this regard. Now it’s time for Bangladesh to utilize this opportunity. Pakistan’s Gwadar Port provides enormous benefits for Bangladesh.

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