SINGAPORE: Pakistan High Commission in Singapore organized a webinar titled “Pakistan’s Regional Economic Integration: Challenges and Opportunities,” in collaboration with the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) on November 9, 2021.
The webinar was conducted as a part of a series of events the High Commission has been co-hosting with ISAS.
The former Minister of State and Chairman Board of Investment (BOI) Mr. Haroon Sharif was invited as the Guest Speaker.
The event was moderated by the Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow at the ISAS Mr. Vinod Rai.
A broad spectrum of audience ranging from business chambers, infrastructure companies in Singapore, think tanks, media, and diplomatic Missions based in Singapore attended the webinar.
In his remarks, Mr. Sharif enumerated Government’s efforts to enhance trade and transit flows in Pakistan through enhanced connectivity. He highlighted the transformational potential of China’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the strategic China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that could steer the region towards sustainable growth.
Mr. Haroon Sharif also elaborated upon the structural reforms Pakistan needed to work on to increase its institutional capacity to maximize its trade potential. He underscored that factors such as the pro-growth orientation of bureaucracy, the mainstream role of the private sector in economic diplomacy, and investment in knowledge networks and human resource were crucial in increasing regional outreach for Pakistan.
While emphasizing the need of a strong economic framework, Mr. Sharif noted that geopolitical factors such as stability in Afghanistan, managing the fallout of US-China rivalry, and sustainable peace between India and Pakistan were critically important to benefit from the strategic regional endowments. He concluded by emphasizing the institutional shifts and investment in human resource as fundamental for the desired change towards prosperity.
The remarks were followed by a vibrant Q & A that included discussion on the financial viability of investment models, the scope of the corporate bond market in Pakistan, measures to enhance export and improve cost efficiency, ensuring growth sustainability during COVID-19, and the impact of geopolitical tensions on regional economic growth, which were duly addressed by Mr. Sharif.