Quetta - The much awaited stage for international trade under CPEC has finally arrived as first shipment of Chinese goods will be sent to international markets from Gwadar Port today.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will inaugurate the historic trade activity at a ceremony, which will be attended by civil and military officials, Balochistan CM Sanaullah Zehri, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong and diplomats from various countries.

The $46 dollars China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project is a flagship of Chinese ‘One Belt and One Road’ initiative envisaged by Chinese President Xi Jinping to connect Kashghar with the Middle East and beyond through Gwadar Port.

The first convoy of Chinese containers reached Gwader via CPEC Western Route yesterday which was welcomed at various locations on the way by the residents. The trade caravan was provided a comprehensive security cover by Pakistan Army and other security agencies.

“The prime minister will launch ceremony of international trade convoy by seeing off 45 containers for Middle East formally from Gwadar Port on Sunday (today),” official sources said.

“This is the onset of the progress that has been awaited for years. But now this journey will continue till the times to come,” the PM House said in a statement on Saturday. During his day-long visit to Gwadar, the PM will also address the launching ceremony of the first mega pilot trade cargo, it added.

It said that Gwadar was nature’s gift to Pakistan and Chinese friendship and cooperation had made it more valuable. “We are crossing new milestone into a new era of international relations.”

The shipment of first trade cargo from Gwadar to the international market heralds a changed Pakistan.

Economic experts said the trade under CPEC from Gwadar Port will prove a shock therapy for the Pakistan economy and create employment opportunities. Both civil and military leadership of the country agrees that the mega project will prove a ‘game changer’ for Pakistan and the region.

The multibillion project will not only boost up trade activities, but will also help Pakistan overcome the daunting challenges of energy crunch as 10,400 megawatts power will be generated through various projects.

Roads infrastructure, railways lines and optic fibers are part of the CPEC, which will also rehabilitate and improve many of the existing road and railways lines.

Gwadar Port and CPEC is also very important for the Chinese as it reduces the travel time for their goods and supplies, especially of oil, between China and Middle East from 45 days (on the traditional South China Sea route) to only 12 days.

Gwadar Port is rich of new possibilities not only for Pakistan and China but also for the whole world with a scope of import and export activity from Central Asia to the Middle East.

Besides enhancing communication network, supply, trade and cultural links, the corridor will also help promote peace, resources and harmony in the region.

Staff Reporter from Islamabad adds: Starting its journey from Kashghar, the trade cargo reached Gwadar safely from Gilgit-Baltistan after travelling throughout the country, which manifested the image of a peaceful Pakistan and offset the impression that the project could be harmed by the political difference over CPEC.

Every region and the province of Pakistan will benefit from the CPEC as it’s a comprehensive project of peace and economic progress.

As Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asian States will also take advantage of the project, the enhanced trade activity in relatively less-developed western region of Pakistan - comprising Balochistan and KP – would witness economic boost which would be visible within few years.

The government has already allocated land for Gwadar Free Trade Zone and announced concessions for Gwadar Port and Free Trade Zone in Balochistan.

Moreover, the projects of Exclusive Industrial Park Processing Zone and Mineral Economic Zone are also being executed on a priority basis.

A project worth Rs25 billion is being executed for the development of Gwadar city keeping in view its importance. The federal government gave a free hand to the provincial government in that regard that designed the project considering Gwadar’s basic needs.

The federal government has also provided all resources for the installation of a plant to make the sea water drinkable, besides launching an additional Rs11.5 billion project for clean drinking water to Gwadar during 2015-2016.

The quality of underground water is also being improved and the existing 50-bed hospital is being upgraded to a 300-bed facility. A university and a technical and vocational training institute are also being set up in Gwadar to produce required manpower. The locals will be preferred for enrolment in these institutes.

Under the CPEC, the government has prioritised energy and road infrastructure. To meet the electricity needs, a 300-megawatt power plant is being installed in Gwadar that will also be linked to national grid.

A Special Security Force has been raised to provide security cover to the Chinese investors.

Gwadar is also being made a safe city that will boost the investors’ confidence. The construction of a new international airport is also underway in Gwadar to facilitate the movement of investors.

The federal government has given special attention to the construction of roads as travel to and from Gwadar is being squeezed.