Uzbekistan eyes Pakistan’s Gwadar Port as gateway for seaborne cotton exports

Uzbekistan eyes Pakistan’s Gwadar Port as gateway for seaborne cotton exports

A 16-member high-level delegation from Uzbekistan, led by Vice 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 the China Overseas Ports Holding Co, the port's operator, on Wednesday.

The port of Gwadar could easily serve as a transit point serving all of the Central Asian Republics (CARs comprising Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kirghizstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) and the Persian Gulf states.

Analysts said the move highlighted the big potential demand countries have for an international public facility such as the Gwadar Port, a deep-water port that may open a coveted sea trade option for landlocked Central Asian countries.

Deegation of Uzbekistan accompanied by Gwadar Port Authority Chairman Naseer Khan Kashani and Zhang Baozhong, chairman of the China Overseas Ports Holding Co, the delegation observed the loading/offloading of cargoes by a containership operated by Chinese shipping giant COSCO Shipping Holdings. They discussed the matter of regional connectivity and the possibility of building and investing in a logistics park at the Gwadar free trade area.

Moreover, Zhang noted on his wechat account on wednesday, that Uzbekistan is the world's sixth-largest producer and second-largest exporter of cotton. He also wrote that Uzbekistan is pushing for a diplomatic move among Central Asian countries, including top-level diplomatic visits to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, for a southbound logistics corridor via the Gwadar Port.

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

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

The country's cotton exports fell in recent years due to a shrinking planting area and an increase in domestic consumption.

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