Ports War: Determining Gwadar and Chabahar Ports Trade Attractiveness Using Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis

Document Type : Research Paper


1 School of Management Sciences, Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK) Insitute of Engineering Sciences and Technology Topi, Swabi, Pakistan

2 NUST Business School (NBS), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan

3 Faculty of Materials & Chemical Engineering, Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK) Insitute of Engineering Sciences and Technology Topi, Swabi, Pakistan

4 Faculty of Computer Sciences and Engineering, Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK) Insitute of Engineering Sciences and Technology Topi, Swabi, Pakistan


This study compares the two emerging seaports: Gwadar port (Pakistan); and Chabahar port (Iran). The study evaluates the trade attractiveness among the neighboring countries, i.e., Afghanistan, China, and the Central Asian States, while keeping China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) development in perspective. The two ports may provide one of the closest sea links for the resource-rich Central Asian countries and Afghanistan. At the same time, Gwadar provides China with an alternative and short trade route via Pakistan. The study employs the Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS) technique of Multi-Criteria Decision Making methods to evaluate and select the best seaport. The findings establish that Gwadar is a better option. The study also provides recommendations for the authorities of the two ports and the prospective other countries in the neighborhood to ensure maximum return on their investment.


Main Subjects

  1. Anderson, C. M., Park, Y.-A., Chang, Y.-T., & Chang-Ho. (2008). A Game-Theoretic Analysis of Competition Among Container Port Hubs: The Case of Busan and Shanghai 1. Maritime Policy & Management, 35(1), 5-26.

    Brooks, M. (2000). Sea Change in Liner Shipping Regulation and Management Decision-making in a Global Industry. Elsevier Science Ltd, Oxford, UK.

    Chabahar Port Development Authority. (2017). Port development. Retrieved from Chabahar port: http://chabaharport.pmo.ir/en/portfacilietes/portdevelopment

    Chang, Y.-T., Lee, S.-Y., & Jose, L. T. (2008). Port Selection Factors by Shipping Lines: Different perspectives Between Trunk Liners and Feeder Service Providers. Marine Policy, 32(6), 887-885.

    China Daily. (2015, November 12). Chinese firm to develop SEZ in Gwadar. China.

    Chou. (2007). A Fuzzy MCDM Method for Solving Marine Transshipment Container Port Selection Problems. Applied Mathematics and Computation, 186(1), 435-444.

    Chou, C.-C. (2010). AHP Model For the Container Port Choice in Multiple- Ports Region. Journal of Marine Science and Technology, 18(2), 221-232.

    Chou, C.-C. (2013). Application of an Integrated Model with MCDM and IPA to Evaluate the Service Quality of Transshipment Port. Mathematical Problems in Engineering.

    CPEC. (2019). CPEC Offical Website, Planning Commission of Pakistan, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms, Government of Pakistan. Islamabad, Pakistan. Retrieved February 3, 2019, from http://cpec.gov.pk/

    Ding, J.-F., Kuo, J.-F., Shyu, W.-H., & Chou, C.-C. (2019). Evaluating Determinants of Attractiveness and Their Cause-Effect Relationships for Container Ports in Taiwan: Users’ Perspectives. Maritime Policy & Management. doi:10.1080/03088839.2018.1562245

    Dong, C., & Franklin, R. (2021). From the digital Internet to the physical Internet: A conceptual framework with a stylized network model. Journal of Business Logistics, 42(1), 108-119.

    EIA. (2012). The Strait of Hormuz is the world's most important oil transit chokepoint. U.S. Energy Information Administration. Retrieved January 15, 2018, from https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=4430

    EIU. (2016). The Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index 2016. London: The Economist. Retrieved January 21, 2018, from https://www.eiu.com/topic/democracy-index

    Ernst, G. F. (2001). Economics of Transportation in Container Shipping Logistics. International Conference on Port and Maritime R&D and Technology. Singapore.

    Fahim, P. B., Rezaei, J., Montreuil, B., & Tavasszy, L. (2021). Port performance evaluation and selection in the Physical Internet. Transport Policy, published online: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tranpol.2021.07.013.

    Gi-Tae, Y., Adolf, K. N., Paul, T.-W. L., & Zaili, Y. (2014). Modelling Port Choice in an Uncertain Environment. Maritime Policy & Management, 41(3), 251-267.

    GoP. (2016). Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan. Retrieved from Ministry of Foreign Affairs: http://www.mofa.gov.pk/pr-details.php?mm=Mzg1Mg,,

    Holder, R. D. (1990). Some Comments on the Analytic Hierarchy Process. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 41(11), 1073-1076.

    IEP. (2017). Institute for Economics and Peace, Global Peace Index 2017. Sydney, Australia: Institute for Economics and Peace. Retrieved January 21, 2018, from Country economy: http://visionofhumanity.org/app/uploads/2017/06/GPI17-Report.pdf

    Jafri, H. (2013). Strategic Analysis of Seaports using Multiple-Criteria Decision-Making Methods and TOWS. Journal of Asian Business Strategy, 182-191.

    James, B., & Gail, B. (1988). The Perception of route competition via seaports in the European Communities Research Project Part 1. Maritime Policy and Management, 15(1), 35-55.

    Jansson, J. O., & Shneers, D. (1987). Liner Shipping Economics. New York: Champan and Hall Ltd.

    Mardania, A., Jusohb, A., Nor, K. M., Khalifaha, Z., Zakwana, N., & Valipourb. (2015). Multiple Criteria Decision-Making Techniques and Their Applications – A Review of the Literature from 2000 to 2014. Economic Research-Ekonomska IstraÅživanja, 28(1), 516-571.

    Moya, J. M., & Valero, M. F. (2017). Port choice in container market: a literature review. Transport Reviews, 37(3), 300-321.

    Nir, A.-S., Lin, K., & Liang, G.-S. (2003). Port Choice Behaviour—from the Perspective of the Shippers. Maritime Policy & Management, 30(2), 165-173.

    Pak, J. Y. (2015). Fuzzy MCDM Approach for Evaluating Intangible Resources Affecting Port Service Quality. The Asian Journal of Shipping and Logistics, 459-468.

    Parola, F., Risitano, M., Ferretti, M., & Panetti, E. (2016). The Drivers of Port Competitiveness: A Critical Review. Transport Review. doi:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01441647.2016.1231232

    PMDGSB. (2013). Chabahar Port. Iran: Port and Maritime Directorate General of Sistan and Balochistan province. Retrieved January 15, 2018, from http://pmo.ir/pso_content/media/files/2013/5/23606.pdf

    Radelet, S., & Sachs, J. (1998). Shipping costs, manufactured exports, and economic growth. American Economic Association Meetings, Harvard University, USA.

    Rezaei, J., van Wulfften Palthe, L., Tavasszy, L., Wiegmans, B., & van der Laan, F. (2019). Port performance measurement in the context of port choice: an MCDA approach. Management Decision, 57(2), 396-417.

    RomKim, A. (2016). A Study on Competitiveness Analysis of Ports in Korea and China by Entropy Weight TOPSIS. The Asian Journal of Shipping and Logistics, 187-194.

    Roy, M. S. (2012). Iran: India's Gateway to Central Asia. Strategic Analysis , 957-975.

    Saeed, N. (2009). An analysis of carriers’ selection criteria when choosing container terminals in Pakistan. Maritime Economics & Logistics, 11(3), 270-288.

    Sayareh, J., & Alizmini, H. R. (2014). A Hybrid Decision-Making Model for Selecting Container Seaport in the Persian Gulf. The Asian Journal of Shipping and Logistics, 75-95.

    1. (2017). Safety Index. Retrieved from Safe around: World's Safest Countries 2017: https://safearound.com/danger-rankings/

    Slack, B. (1985). Containerization: inter-port competition and port selection. Maritime Policy and Management, 293-303.

    Smith, A. (1776). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. W. Strahan and T. Cadell, London.

    Song, D. W., & Yeo, K. T. (2004). A Competitive Analysis of Chinese Container Ports Using the Analytic Hierarchy Process. Maritime Economics and Logistics, 34-52.

    Sternberg, R. W. (2000). The Successful Factors of an Ocean Transshipment Center: The Case Study of one Italian Port. The Journal of Chinese Ports, 29(2), 13-18.

    Thomson, B. J. (1998). Structure changes in the maritime industry’s impact on the inter-port competition in container trade. International Conference.

    Tiwari, P. Y., Itoh, H., & Doi, M. (2003). Shipper's Port and Carrier Selection Behaviour in China: A Discrete Choice Analysis. Maritime Economics & Logistics, 5, 23-39.

    Tongzon, J. (2009). Port Choice and Freight Forwarders. Transportation Research Part E, 45, 186-195.

    UNO. (2017). World Population Prospects 2017. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Retrieved January 11, 2018, from https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/

    Veldman, S., Garcia-Alonso, L., & Vallejo-Pinto, J. Á. (2011). Determinants of Container Port Choice in Spain. Maritime Policy and Management, 38(5), 509-522.

    Walsh, D. (2013). Chinese Company Will Run Strategic Pakistani Port, The New York Times. Retrieved February 3, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/01/world/asia/chinese-firm-will-run-strategic-pakistani-port-at-gwadar.html?_r=0

    Wiegmans, B. W., Van Der Hoest, A., & Notteboom, E. T. (2008). Port and Terminal Selection by Deep-Sea Container Operators. Maritime Policy & Management, 35(6), 517-534.

    World Bank. (2016). World Bank IBRD Data. Retrieved January 11, 2018, from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL

    Yang, Y.-C., & Chen, S.-L. (2016). Determinants of Global Logistics Hub Ports: Comparison of the Port Development Policies of Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. Transport Policy, 45, 179-189.

    Yap, W. Y., Jasmine, S. L., & Notteboom, T. (2006). Developments in Container Port Competition in East Asia. Transport Review, 26(2), 167-188.

    Yeo, G. T., Roe, M., & Dinwoodie, J. (2008). Evaluating the competitiveness of container ports in Korea and China. Transportation Research Part A, 42(6), 910-921.

    Yuen, C.-l. A., Zhang, A., & Cheung, W. (2012). Port Competitiveness from The Users’ Perspective: An Analysis of Major Container Ports in China and its Neighboring Countries. Research in Transportation Economics, 35, 34-40.

    Zaheer, C. K. (2006). Development and Operations of the Port of Gwadar. International Federation of Shipmaster’s Associations.

    Zan, Y. (1999). Analysis of Container Port Policy by the Reaction of an Equilibrium Shipping Market. Maritime Policy & Management, 26(4), 369-381.