The governments of Dubai and Pakistan have reached an agreement to jointly undertake maritime and logistics projects. These projects include the construction of a rail corridor through Karachi, infrastructure enhancements at Qasim Port, and the establishment of an economic zone near the terminal.
DP World, a state-owned ports operator, will act as the representative of the Dubai government, while Pakistan Railways and Port Qasim Authority, both state-run entities, will represent the Pakistan government in overseeing the development of these projects. This announcement was made by the UAE company in a recent statement, according to the Emirates News Agency (WAM).
The inter-government framework agreements, signed during the World Economic Forum (WEF/Davos 2024) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, highlight the significance of Pakistan as an entryway to Asia and the economic benefits associated with its strategic location. These statements were made by Shahid Ashraf Tarar, Pakistan’s Federal Minister of Communication, Railways, and Maritime Affairs.
Growing importance of Pakistan as a market and trade corridor
Sultan bin Sulayem, chairman of Ports, Customs, and Free Zone Corporation, as well as the Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, emphasized the growing importance of Pakistan as a market and a vital trade corridor to Central Asia. He stated that DP World will collaborate with various Pakistani government organizations to establish new freight systems, enhance port connectivity and investment in partnership with Port Qasim Authority.
According to data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan’s economy is projected to grow by 2 percent in 2024, following a contraction of 0.2 percent in 2023. In line with this, the IMF’s executive board recently approved the immediate disbursement of a $700 million loan to Pakistan, following a review of the country’s economic reform program.
Dedicated freight corridor and logistics park
The inter-governmental framework agreements between Dubai and Pakistan encompass collaboration in the development of a dedicated freight corridor, a multi-modal logistics park, and freight terminals. The proposed railway will stretch from Karachi Port on the Arabian Sea, passing through Karachi, Pakistan’s most densely populated city, and extending to the Pipri Marshalling Yard, approximately 45 kilometers away. Pakistan Railways, headquartered in Lahore, is the national rail company responsible for owning and operating nearly 8,000 kilometers of railway network from Torkham in the northwest to Karachi in the south.
Another framework agreement was signed with Pakistan’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs, focusing on the dredging of the navigation channel at Qasim International Container Terminal. DP World will undertake the capital dredging as part of this agreement. According to the Port Qasim Authority’s website, the terminal currently has a capacity of 0.6 million TEUs per year and can accommodate vessels up to 305 meters in length.
The third framework agreement involves the development of an economic zone at Port Qasim, with the aim of attracting over $3 billion in foreign direct investment. Moreover, DP World will spearhead the development of this zone, intending to stimulate economic activity within Pakistan.
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