ISLAMABAD : The IWCCI on Tuesday called for increased focus on developing ports to ensure smooth flow of merchandise and stimulation of economic activities. Economy is under pressure due to various reasons including congestion of ports which remains one of the main hurdles to growth, it said. Pakistan should allocate extra resources for development of ports which are handling 90pc of the nation’s external trade to unleash a new era of maritime commerce, said Farida Rashid, President IWCCI.

Talking to the business community, she said that ports needs a major policy transformation as it holds the key to growth of most sectors like manufacturing, agriculture and trade.

Farida Rashid said that Port Qasim handling around 37 per cent of the nation’s cargo is earning good profit but the progress is slow while procedures have become a problem.

Development of Gwadar Port located at the juncture of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East, needs urgent attention as all Pakistani ports hardly handle 1.1 million containers annually while only one Port of Jabel Ali, UAE handles 12 million containers per annum which will be expanded to 55 million containers by 2030, she said.

Similarly, the Port of Sohar, one of the eight in Oman, is hardly 100 km away from Gwadar, it has also become a major transhipment hub which will start handling 1.5 million containers once their $130 million expansion project is completed by end 2013 while Port Sultan Qaboos can hand over 20 million tonnes of cargo, she said.