ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar Wednesday said Pakistan was now well positioned to further tap the trade potential of Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs).
“There is a huge trade potential in Afghanistan and five Central Asian states, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, with combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $ 445 billion and population of 66 million, offer a sizeable market for Pakistani goods, services and investment,” Dar said while speaking at the launching ceremony of Pakistan-Afghanistan-Central Asian Republic States Trade Summit (PACTS) in Islamabad on Tuesday night.
The ceremony was organized by Rawalpindi Chambers of Commerce and Industries (RCCI).
The Finance Minister appreciated the efforts of RCCI for organizing the summit saying that it would help enhance trade opportunities for Pakistan with Central Asian states and Afghanistan.
He said a Joint Business Council, comprising of leading businessmen from both the countries, had also been established to increase business to business interaction.
He said Pak-Afghan bilateral trade had increased from $1.11 billion in 2005-06 to $ 1.84 billion in 2015-16.
Exports from Pakistan to Afghanistan, he added, had increased from $1.06 billion to $ 1.43 billion during the period and there was a big potential to enhance the trade.
The minister also said Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) had been established to monitor effective implementation of the Pak-Afghan Transit Trade Agreement 2010 and so far, six APTTCA meetings had been held.
He said the government’s economic policies, under leadership of the Prime Minister, had resulted in macroeconomic stability within two and half years, contrary to international predictions of five years.
He said now the target was higher, sustainable, and inclusive growth.
The minister said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised GDP growth forecast for Pakistan for FY 2017 from 4.7 per cent to 5 per cent, and projected GDP growth of 5.5 per cent in FY 2021.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) raised GDP forecast for Pakistan for 2017 from 4.8 per cent to 5.2 per cent, he said, adding the Harvard University study had projected 5.07 per cent annual GDP growth of the country till 2024.
World Bank projected 5 per cent GDP growth for Pakistan in FY 2017 and 5.4 per cent in FY 2018, he added.
He said it was the firm resolve of the government to achieve a higher and more sustainable growth.
The minister also said that the initiatives like CAREC and CPEC, and Pakistan’s commitment to join in the Ashgabat Agreement and Lapis Lazuli Corridor would further support the CARs trade plans.
He said that the government was desirous of peace and stability in Afghanistan and was making serious efforts to help the Afghan government in that regard.
“Our region is very rich in economic, human and natural resources and the connectivity of this region will usher in new vistas of prosperity. CPEC is a game changer and we would like other neighboring countries to take advantage of this project”.
The minister assured the RCCI that the government would seriously consider their charter of demands presented by the RCCI president.