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The New Arab

Qatar launches direct trade route with Pakistan, bypassing blockade

The first vessel from Pakistan will arrive at Qatar's new Hamad Port this week [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 September, 2017

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With UAE's ports now out of bounds for sanctions-hit Qatar, a new, direct shipping route has opened between the emirate and Pakistan to bypass the blockade and boost economic ties.
A direct trade route between Qatar and Pakistan has launched this week, bypassing a blockade imposed by Doha's neighbouring Gulf countries and Egypt.

Qatari shipping company Milaha is set to launch what it has called the fastest direct service between Doha and the Pakistani port city of Karachi, as the Gulf state seeks to establish new trade routes amid a land, air and sea blockade from its Arab neighbours.

The first vessel is due to arrive at the newly-inaugurated Hamad Port outside the Qatari capital on September 11 following a transit time of four days - compared with the usual six-to-seven-day journey.

"We have been vigorously ramping up our operations between Qatar and key Asian markets in response to growing demand from traders, importers, and exporters on both sides," said Abdulrahman Essa Al-Mannai, Milaha president and chief executive officer, in a statement in the run-up to the launch.

Previously most of Doha's shipments to and from Pakistan docked at Dubai's Jebel Ali port - a regional hub - now off-limits due to the Saudi- and Emirati-led blockade.

Qatar has been expanding its maritime trade capabilities after Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut off political and trade links with Doha on June 5, initiating the Gulf's worst political crisis in years.

The bloc accuses Qatar of supporting extremism, a charge the emirate categorically denies.

Milaha's new service, called PQX, will mainly bring perishable products and other food items, such as seafood, fruits and vegetables, from Pakistan.

The outbound vessels from Hamad Port will transport petrochemicals to Karachi.

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