ISLAMABAD, November 30 (DNA): Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Ishaq Dar has said that, “Pak-Afghan bilateral trade has increased from US$ 1.11 billion in 2005-06 to US$ 1.84 billion in 2015-16.”
“Exports from Pakistan to Afghanistan have increased from US$ 1.06 billion to US$ 1.43 billion during this period and there is a big potential to enhance this trade, added the Finance Minister while addressing as Chief guest at the launch ceremony of Pakistan Afghanistan Central Asian Republic States (CARs) Trade Summit (“PACTS”) organized by Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (RCCI).
The Finance Minister appreciated the efforts of RCCI for organizing the summit and congratulated the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and the participants on the launch of PACTS which will help in enhancing trade opportunities for Pakistan with Central Asian states in the region and Afghanistan.
He informed the participants of the ceremony that, “A Joint Business Council, comprising of leading businessmen from Pakistan and Afghanistan has been established to increase business to business interaction.”
The Minister also said, “Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) has been established to monitor effective implementation of the Pak-Afghan Transit Trade Agreement 2010.”
“So far, 6 APTTCA meetings have been held,” the Minister added.
Talking about the potential of the trade between the countries of CARs, the Minister said, “5 Central Asian States, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, with combined GDP of US$ 445 billion and population of 66 million, offer a sizeable market for Pakistan’s goods, services and investment.”
On the occasion the Minister also said that, “Pakistan is now well positioned to play a pivotal role in enhancing economic cooperation with Afghanistan and CARs.”
“Government’s economic policies, under leadership of PM, have resulted in macroeconomic stability within two and a half years, contrary to international predictions of five years. Now, the target is higher, sustainable, and inclusive growth,” he said.
On the growth forecasts of Pakistan in future the Minister shared with the participants that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised GDP growth forecast for Pakistan for FY 2017 from 4.7% to 5%, and projected GDP growth of 5.5% in FY 2021.”
“The Asian Development Bank (ADB) raised GDP forecast for Pakistan for 2017 from 4.8% to 5.2%. Harvard University study has projected 5.07% annual GDP growth for Pakistan till 2024. The World Bank projected 5% GDP growth for Pakistan in FY 2017 and 5.4% in FY 2018,” he said.
He reiterated that, “It is the firm resolve of the government to achieve a higher and more sustainable growth.”
The Minister also said that, “The initiatives like Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and Pakistan’s commitment to join in the Ashgabat Agreement and Lapis Lazuli Corridor will further support the CARs trade plans.”
The Government of Pakistan is highly desirous of Peace and stability in Afghanistan and is making serious efforts to help the Afghan government in this regard,” he said.
“Our region is very rich in economic, human and natural resources; he said that the connectivity of this region will usher in new vistas of prosperity. CPEC is a game changer and we would like other neighbouring countries to take advantage of this project,” he added.
The Minister assured RCCI that, “The Government will seriously consider their charter of demands presented by the president of RCCI.”
At the end of the ceremony which was attended by members of the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, business leaders and Ambassadors from different countries, the Finance Minister thanked Raja Amer Iqbal, President, Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Executive Committee of the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce & Industry for arranging the ceremony and making an effort towards promotion of regional trade and cooperation