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Economy in regional context

Economy in regional context

Participating in a panel discussion between Asia and Europe, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has pointed out the inherent resilience of the Pakistani economy which it has demonstrated on various occasions in the past and has successfully coped with security challenges, terrorism and natural calamities. According to him, Pakistan is trying to enhance regional cooperation and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project is the best example of regional connectivity which is off the ground with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank. The project is likely to complete in five years and Mr Dar is happy that Pakistan is receiving an average of $1.2 billion annually. Regardless to his appreciation for receiving the fund, Mr Dar should also understand that the country is on the verge of a breaking point where a huge amount of the national wealth will be spent on debt servicing. But he is right to the extent that the modern economy requires linkage between countries from regional to global level and no country can afford a solo flight.

During the discussion, the Asian Development Bank chief raised a few basic points for the promotion of trade and investment in the region and explained that political stability and peace are the foremost requirements to deepen reforms and enhance connectivity and linkages within the countries in Asia and the world beyond. As a matter of fact, European Union is the best example of closer economic cooperation within the states of different cultures and ethnicities. The Asian countries should develop closer cooperation with European Union to learn the experience in the implementation of regulatory laws and harmonization of a mechanism to promote trade and investment within the countries in the region. There is political stability and peace in Europe, but Asian region is marred by political differences, border disputes, economic disparities and terrorism. Another nemesis haunting the nations in Asia is corruption which is neutralizing the gains and benefits of economic reforms and financial stability.

With regard to Pakistan, the time has come when the countries within the region should shun their petty differences and work closely with each other for the economic uplift of their peoples. Pakistan needs to be proactive to revive various forums to enhance cooperation in the fields of trade and investment within the likeminded countries. At the moment, Saudi Arabia is trying to shift the basis of its economy from oil to trade and it is the best opportunity for Pakistan to establish industrial cities along the economic corridor to woo the Saudi investors. Pakistan can provide them technology, cheap labour and tax concessions to invest in various fields as myriads of opportunities are available in the country. Mr Dar should also take personal interest in convincing the Saudi business tycoons to invest in Pakistan rather than in European or North American countries.