Pakistan Strategic Forum analysts visited the soft launch ceremony of the Pakistan Navy-backed Pakistan International Maritime Expo and Conference 2023 (PIMEC 2023). The event was meant to soft launch the expo and conference which would be held in February 2023, alongside international naval warfare exercises AMAN-23. The event was attended by the Chief of Naval Staff of the Pakistan Navy, the Federal Ministers for Defense and Defense Production, as well as the diplomatic corps, the defense journalist community and diplomatic military attaches. The event was very well-received and successful, with many countries already securing a number of stalls for PIMEC 2023, including the UK and Netherlands.
The Chief of Naval Staff in his speech elaborated on Pakistan’s immense potential for a blue economic boom and said, “The Pakistan Navy is engaged in comprehensive geographical mapping in collaboration with China in our Exclusive Economic Zone. We have made three joint expeditions so far with highly encouraging results indicating major oil and gas reserves. PIMEC will be held every two years to showcase advances in Pakistani maritime technologies”. The Naval Chief further stated, “CPEC is a prolific addition to our potential for blue economy. The objective of maritime security cannot be attained without collaborating with all elements of national power.”
Earlier, the Pakistan Navy’s Director of Maritime Research said, “CPEC is a manifestation of Blue Economy. Pakistan Navy has comprehensive plans to engage global policy makers and jumpstart the Pakistan’s Blue Economy and invite international partners for transfer of technology for defense”.
As a key stakeholder, the Pakistan Navy is fostering maritime thought throughout the country in order to raise awareness of the untapped potential of our Blue Economy. In order to support efforts to promote the Blue Economy, the Pakistan Navy will hold a “Pakistan International Maritime Expo and Conference” (PIMEC) in conjunction with the Pakistan Navy’s AMAN series, under the patronage of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs. Geography is the hinge of maritime approach and countries with availability of open seas are naturally at an advantage. The location of Pakistan provides it a strategic benefit in carrying transit trade for non-coastal Central Asian countries and Afghanistan. Pakistan is a maritime state with a lengthy coastline of almost 1050 km and the Exclusive Economic Zone of around 240,000 sq. km. The country has God-gifted extended coastline, harbors, plentiful marine resources and open sea routes.
Blue Economy aims to boost economic growth, social inclusion, and raise people’s living standards while maintaining sustainability. It includes hydrocarbon extraction, seabed mining, marine biotechnology, fisheries, and marine tourism, as well as growing sectors such as offshore renewable energy, shipbuilding and ship repairs, and aquaculture. Coastal development, shipping, and port infrastructure are also included in the Blue Economy concept.
The world’s economists have estimated an asset value of $24 trillion to the Blue Economy and as of now it’s delivering something between $500-600 billion each year in terms of the dividend to humanity. However, understanding and effectively managing the many components of marine sustainability, ranging from fisheries to ecosystem health to pollution, is a key problem of the Blue Economy.
In addition, during the 1970s, Pakistan’s shipbreaking sector operating in Gadani, was one of the largest in the world, but it is now ranked third after India and Bangladesh. If this industry is revived back and utilized to its full potential, it can have the capacity to contribute more than $10 billion to the GDP annually. Unfortunately, Pakistan is experiencing difficulties to optimally utilize its sea resources. Lack of attention has caused hindrance in the development of maritime sector of the country which ultimately affected the economic growth and national security. Moreover, drop in national marine for trade has forced Pakistan to rely on foreign transporters for international trade.
The main impediments to the development of the country’s maritime sector are a lack of maritime awareness and a vision to look to the seas. To fill this void, the Pakistan Navy will host Pakistan International Maritime Expo & Conference (PIMEC) 2023 for the first time under the auspices of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, bringing together stakeholders and diverse Maritime industries on one platform to explore joint ventures and investment opportunities, as a large number of trade and industry visitors, including those from abroad, will be invited.