In a landmark ceremony, Pakistani authorities will formally hand over 2,281 acres of Gwadar Port’s free trade zone to the Chinese Oversees Ports Holding Company Ltd (COPHCL) on November 11 on a 43-year lease.
The ceremony would be held in Gwadar on Wednesday and would be attended by the Chinese delegation headed by National Development and Reform Commission Vice Chairman Wang Xiaodao, who has already arrived in Pakistan. The Chinese delegation comprises of all top level officials of the Chinese government and leaders of private companies. The Pakistani delegation would be led by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal.
A senior official of the ministry said that the event would also be attended by Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik and Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Kamran Michal. The government has already declared Gwadar Port a free trade zone for the next 23 years. The officer said that in this regard, a high-level meeting of both authorities would be held in Karachi on November 12 to complete the formalities. The Chinese company would execute the port’s affairs through its three main companies, including Gwadar International Terminal (GIT), Gwadar Marine Services Ltd and Gwadar Freezone Company Ltd.
GIT would also be responsible for the port’s operations by handling business related matters. Gwadar Marine Service Ltd would supervise the port’s operation by providing allied services and the Gwadar Freezone Company would supervise affairs of the free zone area by developing and providing allied facilities to the investment companies in the free zone area.
After the formal handover of the free trade zone, all business affairs of the port would be carried out by Chinese authorities. Additionally, during the ceremony, inauguration of some projects would also be held, including inauguration of school and health centres established by the Chinese in Gwadar. The scheme is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an ambitious $46 billion investment plan linking western China to the Arabian Sea with infrastructure, energy and transport projects.
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