The Pakistan government is drafting a new maritime policy, expected to be ready by the end of the month, that should help stimulate the country's maritime sector.
Sources in Islamabad said it will cover purchase, maintenance, operation and demolition of Pakistani-flag merchant vessels, ports and their administration.Pakistan's merchant shipping suffered badly after its nationalization in 1974. The country has only 29 oceangoing vessels and one oil tanker, moving about 10 percent of Pakistan's total sea trade.
The government repealed the 1974 legislation and is moving to encourage private sector participation in shipping. It also deregulated the business and declared shipping an "industry," which affords shipping companies credit and other facilities normally extended to manufacturing units.
All restrictions on private ships were lifted, including age curbs, meaning any type of ship may be bought.
Some 30 private companies reportedly have been licensed to operate ships. Only one, Tristar Shipping Lines has begun service, using an 18-year-old, 34,686-ton bulk carrier bought from a Norwegian owner.
The government expects to encourage the development of ports and is seeking both domestic and foreign investment in port projects. Pakistan has two international ports, Karachi and Qasim, with Karachi handling most cargo.
The World Bank has promised 2.2 billion rupees ($86 million) for modernization of the Karachi port.
A delegation from South Korea's Daewoo conglomerate visited Qasim, 35 miles
from Karachi, recently to study the possibility of investment.
A private company is building an oil terminal at Qasim, expected to be ready next year. The terminal will cost $80 million and be capable of handling 75,000-deadweight-ton vessels.
Qasim is offering two berths to the private sector for conversion into an integrated container terminal. It is offering two other berths for conversion to bulk grain and fertilizer terminals.
Pakistan plans to build a new port at Gwadar, 300 miles west of Karachi on the Baluchistan coast. Gwadar is close to the Strait of Hormuz, through which many tankers pass, and has been assessed as suitable as a transshipment point between the Persian Gulf and East Africa.
The port will be able to accommodate bulk carriers up to 50,000-dwt. in the first phase and 100,000-dwt. liquid cargo vessels in the second.