Tariq Haleem Speech on first container service commences at Gwadar port under CPEC

tariq Haleem on Gwadar First VessleIt is my proud privilege to address this august gathering.

My name is Tariq Haleem and I am the Vice President of The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, known as FPCCI.

FPCCI is the apex body of Pakistan i.e. all the trade associations and all the business chambers of Pakistan have to be the members of FPCCI by law.

FPCCI has under its umbrella, 223 Trade Bodies that is 87 Chambers of Commerce and Industry plus 136 all Pakistan Associations, representing the Industry, Trade and Service sectors.

First of all I would like to recall the situation which prevailed during the time of the last concession holders. During 2008 to 2010 about 1 million tons of wheat and about 2.2 million tons of urea (all government cargoes) arrived at Gwadar Port. Consequently there was a lot of transport movement, but no benefit accrued towards the development of the port of Gwadar, and nothing tangible was initiated, no basic infrastructure was developed and the port remained in its primitive state.

Now / today Gwadar is a success story under the auspices of China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC). The very basic infrastructure has been put in place, thus paving the way for upcoming projects and also enhancing the facilities to be put on fast track.

It is indeed a very historic and happy occasion for all of us that the first COSCO weekly liner service vessel Ms Tiger has arrived today on her inaugural voyage here at Gwadar port.

Mark my words that 7th March, 2018 is a historic day.

I am sure that most of you are aware that FPCCI with COPHC has been working for sometime to ensure commencement of regular cargo shipments at Gwadar Port so that we can send a message to the world community that Gwadar Port is fully operational and fully functional.

Islamabad and Beijing see Gwadar as a “FUTURE JEWEL” in the Pakistan and

China CPEC flagship of China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative to build a new silk road of land and maritime trade routes across Asia and beyond. We are positive that Inshallah Gwadar port will very soon be a major transshipment hub and a mega port.

We have been assured by China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC) that they will be providing special rates / benefits & services not only for all cargoes but also special benefits for Afghan Transit cargoes.

Therefore apart from other cargoes, the first priority is now to immediately attract Afghan Transit cargoes at Gwadar Port and also to promote transit of Fertilizer for Afghanistan via Gwadar Port.

By getting concessions / benefits for Afghan Transit cargoes from China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC), FPCCI / COPHC will also be acting as a bridge for better relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

I congratulate the Chief Minister of Balochistan, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo who has made a very wise decision by appointing Mr. Hussain Islam as advisor on GDA and BCDA with the status of provincial minister. Mr. Hussain Islam belongs to the shipping sector and I am also from the shipping sector. I am confident that he will put in all his efforts to ensure exemplary development of Gwadar port as a progressive modern port.

Pakistan is presently exporting wheat in bulk and more than 1 million tons will be exported from Punjab. Therefore congestion at both Karachi Port and Port Qasim is expected. We at FPCCI feel that this is an opportune time to divert some ships to Gwadar for loading of Wheat export cargoes.

I have discussed this matter with Mr. Hussain Islam (the Advisor to the Chief Minister) and he in turn discussed with the Chief Minister Balochistan Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo to consider a subsidy for the extra transport costs. In fact we have received confirmation last night that the Chief Minister has agreed to our request.

We hope that COPHC can capitalize on this unprecedented initiative by the Chief Minister.

If we work intelligently / plan properly now / today, we can coordinate import of rock phosphate, seeds and scrap in ship loads to Gwadar. These import cargoes are also destined for Punjab.

Therefore transport can move both ways i.e. with export wheat cargo from Punjab to Gwadar and import cargo of rock phosphate, seeds and scrap etc. to Punjab which will hopefully result in bringing down the extra transport costs.

The Chief Minister of Balochistan Mir Abdul Quddos Bizenjo has also offered free of cost office space to FPCCI at Gwadar. FPCCI has gladly accepted this offer of the Chief Minister.

Shifting of some cargoes from Karachi Port and Port Bin Qasim to Gwadar Port will also help in reducing congestion at those ports.

We shall very soon have a press conference and a “MOU” signing ceremony with the government of Balochistan.

FPCCI highly appreciates the initiatives and giant steps that the Chief Minister is taking in the right direction.

Furthermore two major cement manufacturers namely DG Khan Cement and Attock Cement who are located at hub district of Balochistan have already expanded their production capacities by a total of about 3.75 million tons and It would be convenient and economical for these cement industries to export cement and clinker in bulk and bag condition from Gwadar Port. Consequently this would also generate two way transport movement from & to Gwadar which would help in reducing the cost of transportation.

It is also pertinent to mention here that Gwadar has great potential for the development of Tourism because of its azure water and attractive white sandy beaches, temperate climate and friendly people. Plus as you all know Gwadar is free of crime. During winter cruise ships from Europe move towards the gulf region mostly to UAE ports on a seven day cruise, Hence Gwadar should be developed to provide an alternate destination which would boost the tourism industry. FPCCI in cooperation with COPHC is already making efforts to attract cruise ships to Gwadar and Inshallah we shall have some good news for you very soon.

COPHC has also assured FPCCI of their continued support for the LOCALS of Gwadar.

I would also like to mention here that the efforts put in to organize Gwadar Expo 2018 during January was a great success in projecting the benefits to be achieved for the investors at Gwadar.

FPCCI members are keen to invest and setup projects at Gwadar.

In fact only yesterday I received a call from Mr. Rasheed Jan Mohammad of West bury Group (they are one of our most important members) to remind me that their proposal to setup a edible oil refinery with a dedicated jetty is pending with GPA.

I would like to take this opportunity to also request the customs authorities to expedite required permission / infrastructure for commencement of WeBOC i.e. I.T. related issues at Gwadar Port.

I would like to reaffirm our stance i.e. FPCCI is continuously striving to act not only as a bridge between the business community and the government but also between nations.

It is in this context that FPCCI is signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with COPHC today.

We hope that this will further cement our close and brotherly relationship.

In ending I would like to specially mention here that in a very short span of time Mr. Zhang Baozhong has become a good friend. I wish him the very best of success.