Uzbekistan sees Pakistani port of Gwadar as gateway for maritime cotton exports


Uzbekistan, one of the world’s largest cotton exporters, sent a high-level delegation earlier this week to the Chinese-owned port of Gwadar in Pakistan to seek logistics opportunities that could help it export. its cotton, the Global Times has learned.

Analysts said the move highlights the potential strong demand from countries for an international public facility such as the port of Gwadar, a deep-water port that could open up a coveted maritime trade option for landlocked Central Asian countries. .

A high-level 16-member delegation from Uzbekistan, led by Deputy Minister of Railways Akmal Kamalov and the country’s Ambassador to Pakistan Oybek Arif Usmanov, visited the port on Tuesday, according to a press release from China. Overseas Ports Holding Co, the operating port company, on Wednesday.

Accompanied by the president of the Port Authority of Gwadar, Naseer Khan Kashani, and Zhang Baozhong, president of the China Overseas Ports Holding Co, the delegation observed the loading / unloading of cargoes by a container ship operated by the Chinese giant of the maritime transport COSCO Shipping Holdings. They discussed the issue of regional connectivity and the possibility of building and investing in a logistics park in the Gwadar Free Trade Zone.

Contacted by the Global Times, Zhang said he had no further information at this time.

However, on his WeChat account on Wednesday, Zhang noted that Uzbekistan is the world’s sixth-largest producer and the world’s second-largest exporter of cotton. He also wrote that Uzbekistan was pushing for a diplomatic initiative between Central Asian countries, including high-level diplomatic visits to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, for a logistics corridor to the south via the port of Gwadar.

Afghanistan became the first landlocked country in Central Asia to benefit from the use of the port of Gwadar for transshipment trade. In 2020, the country imported 43,000 tonnes of fertilizer via the port, contributing to its agricultural development.

The port’s dry bulk activity increased by more than 1,100% to reach 57,000 tonnes in 2020 compared to 2018.

Zhou Rong, a senior researcher at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, said Gwadar Port has the best infrastructure among all the ports in the region.

“The infrastructure there is superb. Both in terms of deep-water berths and onshore port infrastructure, the port of Gwadar beats its peers in Iran and India, ”Zhou told Global Times on Wednesday.

However, for such a southerly corridor to work, other countries in the region, including China and Iran, will need to be involved to make land passage possible, given the current instability in Afghanistan. , Zhou said.

Located in Balochistan Province, southwest Pakistan, Gwadar Port is a key project in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project of China’s proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

According to data from the US Department of Agriculture, Uzbekistan exported 503,000 tonnes of cotton in 2015, with Bangladesh and China being its main destinations.

The country’s cotton exports have fallen in recent years due to a reduced plantation area and an increase in domestic consumption.
Source: Global Times