Time for deliveries will be shortened from more than 30 days to about 10
Pakistan is to start exporting seafood to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region using a land route that China will use to ship oil and natural gas from the Middle East.
Frozen seafood will depart Pakistan's Gwadar Port on the shores of the Arabian Sea in container trucks and enter China via the Khunjerab Pass, a land port in southern Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture, a more than 1,500-kilometer journey.
After a successful trial last month, regular shipments are to start on April 1, according to Mufeng Biological Technology Co, which will ship products from its cold-storage distribution center near Khunjerab, a seasonal port open eight months of the year.
"It takes about 10 days for the seafood to be transported and cleared by customs on the land route," said Chen Haiou, company chairman. "Normally, it takes more than 30 days to transport seafood by sea from Pakistan to ports in South China's Guangdong province."
Last month, the company shipped 7.46 metric tons of seafood, including squid, shrimp, pomfret and bonefish, from Khunjerab to be sold at markets in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, as well as Beijing and Shanghai.
"We will focus on importing seafood that is in highest demand in Xinjiang," Chen said. "The wholesale price of those products will drop by 10 to 20 percent after the shipments become regular."
China is Pakistan's biggest seafood importer, with about 75 percent of the country's shrimp products sold to China, he said, adding that his company is also considering shipping live seafood.
China Overseas Port Holding Co took over management of the deep-sea Gwadar Port from the Port of Singapore Authority in 2013. The takeover was viewed as a move by China to seek an alternative to the Strait of Malacca, through which more than 80 percent of the country's imported oil passes.
To further enhance the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor along the land route, China will provide about $1 billion in loans for three new road projects along the western route of the corridor, connecting the shortest route from Gwadar to China. The two countries also plan to build a railway connecting the port and Kashgar.