Why Bangladesh Should Use Gwadar Port – OpEd
By Pathik Hasan
Pakistan’s Gwadar port has brought a new dream for the region. This port is not only for Pakistan but also all regional states. Chinese Investment has accelerated the pace of aspirations in this regard. China’s multi billion dollars’ worth project “CPEC’ is linked with Gwadar port. This port creates some sort of possibilities and potentials for whole South Asia, South East Asia, Central Asia, Western Asia, Eurasia, East Asia and Middle East.
Bangladesh is a rising South Asian economic miracle and star. The country under the leadership of its PM Sheikh Hasina Wajed is moving forward. There are many industries, companies in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a biggest exporter of Ready-Made Garments (RMG). Its apparel industry is booming. So, it needs cotton. But the production of cotton in Bangladesh is very low. Therefore, it used to import cotton from western China, Central Asia and Pakistan also. But Bangladesh has no direct connectivity, shipping lines with these states. Bangladesh is using Malacca strait now regarding import and export from China. Singapore port has been using. So, cotton import from Western China is very expensive for Bangladesh.
On the other hands, Bangladesh exports medicines, apparels, frozen foods, Halal foods, potatoes to different countries. Bangladesh export huge number of apparels, potatoes, mangoes to Russia, Central Asian states. On the other hands. It imports cotton, wheats from Russia and Central Asian states. Recently Bangladesh and Russia have agreed to boost up business ties. Bangladesh wants to export mangoes to Russia and import fertilizer from Russia. But the transportation cost by air amongst these states is very high.
Bangladesh can utilize the facilities of Gwadar port. Bangladesh can use Pakistan’s Gwadar port to boost up its trade with Central Asia, Western China and Pakistan. Pakistan’s Gwadar port is going to be regional trade hub in the region. Bangladesh can reach in Western China, Central Asia, Pakistan easily. Pakistan has some regional connectivity with Central Asian States through Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is now viable and politically stagnant. Taliban has formed a government. Regional states including China, Russia are interested to invest for the development of infrastructure and Connectivity of Afghanistan. Bangladesh can also play a role to take part in the development process in Afghanistan.
Therefore, Bangladesh should use Gwadar port to reach in these countries for ensuring its own business interest. There might have some Problems between Bangladesh and Pakistan. But both government of these two states should solve it for their own mutual interest. Pakistan should play an important role in this regard. It has some responsibilities to Bangladesh. It has to be understood and realized. But these problems must be solved diplomatically with bilateral efforts.
Pakistan’s Gwadar port has very strategic significance. China and Pakistan are working together to establish ‘Gwadar port’ a regional hub. Using Gwadar port, Bangladesh can easily access into the markets of Central Asian states, Western part of China, Pakistan, even Afghanistan and Western Asian states.
Bangladesh products can be exported to imported from those regions easily. The raw materials for apparel sector (cotton) can be imported easily from Pakistan and Central Asian states. Such a way, the business relations amongst Bangladesh and other Muslim countries will be strengthened. Bangladesh-Pakistan economic ties will be further bolstered.
There is no shipping line connection between Bangladesh and Pakistan. Bangladesh imports raw materials and products from western China and Central Asian Countries through either Singapore via Malacca strait or by air. So, the cost of transportation and wastage of time is huge for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh can easily overcome this utilizing the Pakistan’s Gwadar port. Bangladesh has already joined China run BRI project in 2017. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka all are the members of Chinese BRI project. If Bangladesh’s ports such as Chittagong (Chattogram), Payra, Mangla ports can be connected with Pakistan’s Gwadar port, Karachi port or Port Qassim via Sri Lankan Colombo or Hambantota port, both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka would benefit. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asian states would also benefit.
Whole South East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia would benefit. ASEAN and SAARC free trade zones could be created. Bangladesh could benefit ultimately. The dependence of Bangladesh on India will be decreased. A greater regional interest could be confirmed.
Why Bangladesh should utilize Pakistan’s Gwadar port?
- For ensuring its own business interest.
- To strengthen the economic and trade ties with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asian States, West Asian countries and Even Russia and China.
- To decrease its huge dependence on India,
- For creating the ASEAN and SAARC free trade of zones.
- This connectivity could unite the ASEAN and SAARC free trade zones.
- The all states in those regions would benefit mutually in the sector of trade, Counter-terrorism approach from multilateral ties.
- 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 grater regional interest.
- Re-establishing the Himalayan-South Asian connectivity can occur if political and diplomatic solutions of Bangladesh-Pakistan strained ties can be found.
- Usage of Gwadar port by Bangladesh would ensure the maximum benefit of the people.
So, Bangladesh should use Pakistan’s Gwadar port. There is no alternative for each and every state in the world without be connected with others. There are huge potentials for Bangladesh in this regard. Now it’s time for Bangladesh to utilize this. (Pakistan Today)
*Pathik Hasan, Dhaka based research and columnist.