Ships set sail from Pakistan port for Mideast, Africa
The first trade cargo convoy that had arrived in the Port of Gwadar in Pakistan from China departed on Sunday, bound for Middle East and African countries and marking a milestone in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and China's "Belt and Road" initiative.
The departure of the convoy from Gwadar, a key project under the CPEC vision, marks the materialization of the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan economic cooperation and the "Belt and Road" initiative, which together integrate economies in the Eurasian region, Chinese and Pakistani officials said at a ceremony Sunday, according to local media.
"This idea was conceived only two years ago, and this day marks the breaking of the dawn of a new era," Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said at the ceremony, the Dawn newspaper reported. "We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the CPEC and all the projects under its umbrella materialize within the given time," he said.
The CPEC is a $46 billion project initiated by China and Pakistan in 2014 and a major part of the "Belt and Road" initiative.
Sharif said the CPEC will help connect China, South Asia and Central Asia and offer opportunities to people in these areas and investors all over the world, according to the Dawn.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong hailed the significance of the convoy successfully passing through the western part of Pakistan from north to south for the first time, Radio Pakistan reported.
Sun noted that it is the first time for the Gwadar Port to export containerized cargo, as well as the first time China and Pakistan have jointly organized a trade convoy through Pakistan to the Gwadar Port.
The convoy, carrying cargo such as rice, cotton and Chinese machinery, departed by truck from Kashi, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and arrived at Gwadar on Saturday, the Dawn said.
From Gwadar the convoy is heading to the Middle East and Africa on two ships, the Al Hussain Zanzibar and the Cosco Wellington, where it will stop at ports in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates and then the Europe, according to Pakistani media reports.
About $468 million has been invested by the government so far in projects under the CPEC and more projects will be launched next year, Sharif said, according to the Dawn.