Prime Minister to emphasize investment, trade expansion during US visit: Ishaq Dar

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will focus on expanding investment and trade cooperation with the United States during his upcoming visit to Washington, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said. Dar was speaking to the media representatives at the conclusion of his visit to Washington during which he attended more than 50 meetings on the occasion of annual IMF-World Bank gatherings, and also had “positive” discussions with US officials on bilateral relations.

The finance minister revealed that the American officials assured him during bilateral meetings that an outstanding amount of $ 322 million in Coalition Support Funds would be reimbursed to Pakistan shortly.

With regard to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s talks with President BarackObama on October 23, Dar said the Pakistani leader would advocate trade as the best way to strengthen bilateral relations and call for expansion in trade and investment relations.

The prime minister will also interact with American business leaders, Daradded.Senator Dar said he had a string of useful meetings with American officialsincluding  USAID Administrator and senior US Trade officials. He said on budget spending for Pakistan from the US assistance is likely to be increased to 35 to 40 percent from current 20 percent.

He also met with US Deputy National Security Advisor, Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Ambassador Carlos Pascal, envoy on energy and discussed bilateral cooperation.

With the US Undersecretary of Treasury, David Cohen, Dar said, hisdiscussions addressed anti-money laundering efforts. Pakistan, he said, has promulgated an ordinance amendment to bring the law in line with international requirement

Not doing so, he added, would have affected Pakistani banking sector rating. The finance minister said he discussed with the US officials alternate tothe now shelved reconstruction opportunity zones programme as part of efforts to secure greater trade access for Pakistani products and found the US officials positive  in this regard.

During meetings with the World Bank and IMF chiefs, Dar said there was a“sea change” in their dealings with Pakistan as the international finance institutions expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s recent reforms and steps to put the economy back on track.

The World Bank, he said, has committed $700 million to Dasu hydro powerproject, and also aged one billion for International Development Assistance 16.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation has said it would increase the investment in Pakistan to $1.5 billion “I found much greater international confidence in Pakistan’s economicpolicies and reforms, and am confident that with more investments, we will be able to fuel the national economy, achieve higher GDP growth and fast-track the economic development,” he said.