Minister For Planning chairs meeting of Development Partners over regional integration

Islamabad, October 10, 2013 (PPI-OT): Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal presided over a meeting of the development partners World Bank. ADB, USAID and NFID over Regional Integration.

In his introductory remarks the Federal Minister appreciated the role and contribution of development partners in the economic growth of Pakistan over the past years. He said, “Pakistan is facing serious economic crisis, but the challenges are not unsolvable”. Moreover, as a front-line state in war against terror, Pakistan has paid heavy human and economic cost.

Hence, Pakistan alone would not be able to afford huge burden of its development needs and restructuring the economy. He said, therefore, external resources in the form of grants, debt swap, concessional loans from friendly countries and international agencies are highly appreciated.

He urged upon the developing partners from World Bank, ADB, USAID and DFID to join hands in carrying forward the agenda of regional connectivity for improving trade and economic growth. He further highlighted that Pakistan is a member of SAARC, ECO, CAREC and actively participates in ASEAN and SCO, but has not utilized the potential in a significant way.

He explained that failure to develop infrastructure and protocols for large-scale overland trade and similarities in the trade structure, together with absence of comparative advantage in the capital intensive and high value-added products (which are mostly imported in the region) are some of the reasons for this lack of success.

He was of the view that trade complementarities can be developed in the region if the countries in the region are able to achieve vertical specialization through production sharing arrangements.

He added that vertical specialization would not only allow the regional trading partners to strengthen their trade ties but also enable them to carry economies of scale by concentrating upon a specific production process in the value addition chain.

Therefore, enhanced regional connectivity through establishment of Regional Transit and Economic Corridor between Pakistan and China is now being pursued vigorously by the present government. The federal Minister explained the purpose of the meeting as expansion of regional trade and economic cooperation. He asked the Forum to focus on following issues in economic cooperation:

Creating regional markets by removing barriers in trade of goods and services

Enhancing connectivity between people and economic sectors

Opening access to finance as a means to facilitate financial risk mitigation

On this occasion, the Federal Minister also dilated upon the future plans of the government in Pakistan. He said that the government has started work on preparing documents of Vision 2025 and 11th Five Year Plan (2013-2018) that will be finalized by the end of this year. He explained that the government has identified following key pillars of Vision 2025:

1. Energy security

2. Sustained and inclusive growth

a. Resource mobilization
b. Investment
c. Exports

3. Private sector-led growth
4. Modernization of infrastructure
5. Institutional reforms and governance
6. Social capital
7. Strategic regional initiatives

The Minister, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal said,” Regional integration is an important element of our government’s vision. Pakistan is located in the centre of three engines of growth in Asia, South Asia, Central Asia and China. Prime Minister has a vision to make Pakistan hub of regional trade.

A regional block comprising of these areas has a population of over 3 billion people. The economic corridor project with China will be a milestone project, and transform the region by bringing opportunities of trade and jobs for millions of people in the region”.

He further added,” Regional connectivity projects in the fields of rail, road, energy and telecommunication are being perused by the government with great speed. Pakistan appreciates the support of its development partners. However, our strategy is to increasingly rely on domestic resources by focusing on the tax reforms, promoting investment and exports”.

He added, “we want to create an environment in which private sector can be a lead role in development of the country.” He expressed, “To fully harness regional economic potential, it is important that political environment of the region improves. It is our hope that the Indian leadership will whole-heartedly support the peace process, so that lives of people in South Asia can be freed from poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy”.

For more information, contact:
Haji Ahmed Malik
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Department (PID)
Tel: +9251 925 2323 and +9251 925 2324
Fax: +9251 925 2325 and +9251 925 2326
Email: piopid@gmail.com

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