Gwadar and Europe can offer opportunities to each other.
Gwadar is to become a major trade hub in South Asia connecting Western China, Central Asia to the Middle-East and Eastern Africa. Being the showcase of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, both Pakistani and Chinese authorities give great attention in developing this port. Their main objective is to transform this city into a new Dubai or Shenzhen. Challenges are big, but ambitions are bigger.
China and Pakistan are great partners and have made Gwadar’s development a top priority. But for Beijing and Islamabad, it is important to welcome third countries in this programme.
- The realisation of the CPEC has become a priority for regional development policies in Pakistan. CPEC projects are helping Pakistan to reduce territorial inequalities and meet economic growth. Pakistan and China have forged a very solid partnership and the two countries cooperate to rapidly build this economic corridor. In Gwadar, a Chinese company operates the deep-water port and others manage some special economic zones. Although China and Pakistan are “iron brothers”, for Islamabad, it is also important to attract non-Chinese companies in the CPEC in order to diversify its partnerships. Pakistan is still a developing country and needs to acquire expertise from many different countries including European Union member states. The EU is a major market for Pakistani products, thanks to the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) the EU has granted to Pakistan since 2014. Islamabad is willing to increase this trend and boost exports to Europe.
- China is also willing to invite European companies to Gwadar. The CPEC and other “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) projects are often considered solely Chinese programmes, but for Beijing they are projects offered to the world. Although most BRI and CPEC projects are partly financed by Chinese institutions, Beijing wants more countries to join in the BRI to share experiences and make all projects successful. Chinese authorities have repeatedly called other nations to be involved in the construction of the new Silk Road. EU strong participation in the CPEC and the construction of Gwadar will be welcome by China.
- Because of BREXIT, maintaining a strong dialogue with Pakistan must be a priority for Brussels. The United Kingdom and Pakistan enjoy strong and historical relations; it is now time for EU members to develop new ties with Pakistan, and Gwadar is the right place to do so. Gwadar is the gateway to a major emerging market of 212 million inhabitants. The rapid construction of CPEC projects creates new opportunities that European companies may seize. Construction, energy, transports, and urbanisation are major sectors to be explored by European stakeholders. But Pakistan is also looking for developing agrobusiness, hospitality, education and other sectors. Pakistan will be glad to receive expertise and knowhow from Europe. Pakistan is also a vibrant market that is keen to get opened to Europe goods and services. Although poverty is still a major issue, a strong middle-class is growing and want to discover foreign products.
As Gwadar is to become a major port connecting Central Asia to the world, by conducting business in the Pakistani city port, European companies will enjoy wider access to other countries and regions, including China’s Xinjiang region.
Do not miss the opportunity to develop in Gwadar a major hub in South Asia!