Accelerated pace of economic development top priority of govt: Dastagir

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Commerce Engineer Khurram Dastagir Khan has said that an economic turnaround followed by an accelerated pace of economic development was among the foremost priorities of the present government.

“A substantive increase in our trade therefore, holds the key for much of our future”, he said while addressing Pakistan Envoys Conference on “Interactive Session on “Economic Cooperation” here today.

The Commerce Minister while appreciating Ministry of Foreign Affairs for organizing this conference said that he was privileged to have been invited on the occasion of today’s Envoys Conference represented by Pakistan’s Ambassadors in the Middle East Region.

“It is indeed, a commendable initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This forum, I am sure, would give a new momentum to our growing relations with neighbors in the Middle East. It is a unique opportunity for us to share our perception of the regional potential and present appropriate strategies to serve our economic and trade interests”, he remarked.

Pakistan, he said, “we understand is ideally placed among regions and countries stretching across Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia and China.

Our geographic proximity with energy and oil rich economies of Middle East and Gulf regions has opened up many new economic avenues in diverse sectors of economy including export of merchandize goods, services, investments in energy, industry and infrastructure”.

Khurram Dastagir Khan told the envoys that in today’s world, relations among countries and regions were no longer confined to political and diplomatic spheres.

“Economic dimensions continue to assume considerable importance in determining relations among states. Trade is the basis for a meaningful and sustainable economic cooperation. It is now, a determining factor in bilateral, regional and global relations”, he remarked.

Growth in trade and investment, he said was crucial for Pakistan at this juncture.

“An economic turnaround followed by an accelerated pace of economic development is among the foremost priorities of the present Government. A substantive increase in our trade therefore, holds the key for much of our future”, he remarked.

Khurram said that an open and liberal trade regime pursued by Pakistan helped in the integration process to multilateral trading system under WTO. He added that liberalized trade without enhanced market access carry no meaning. To be of benefit, positive reflection on exports, industrial base, and FDI inflows must be visible.

“It was in quest of these significant gains that Pakistan has been actively engaged in regional arrangements under SAARC, ECO, CAREC and D-8. The benefits of Pakistan’s membership of regional initiatives and bilateral preferential agreements with China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia could also be beneficial for other economies and adjoining regions”, he added.

“We believe that our relations with Middle Eastern countries stem from common aspiration of lasting peace, security and stability – vital pre-requisites for economic development. Pakistan shares common membership of UN, WTO and OIC forums with the Middle Eastern countries”, he remarked.

Pakistan, he said has also formalized bilateral trade cooperation arrangements with important regional economies.

Under Trade Preferential System of Organization of Islamic Conference (TPS-OIC), Pakistan has ratified three agreements, he remarked.

To further foster economic and trade relations with the Islamic countries, process for Pakistan-GCC Free Trade Agreement was initiated.

Progress on the stalled FTA negotiations could create a level playing field for our exporters.

Higher tariffs, Non tariff and other policy barriers continue to impede market access for Pakistani businesses, he remarked.

The Commerce Minister said that a steady increase in Pakistan’s trade with Middle Eastern countries has been maintained.