Timely measures taken by Pakistan government including providing construction incentives, 10-billion-tree tsunami, etc, have played a crucial role in combating Covid-19, said Ambassador of Pakistan to China Moinul Haque.

Speaking at a webinar on “Post-Covid Global Investment Climate and Opportunities for Pakistan”, he said that the economy was showing signs of improvement as the IT, banking and telecom industries were recording robust growth.

Other participants in the session, while being optimistic, deliberated and brainstormed ideas aimed at speedy economic recovery of Pakistan in the post-pandemic era. They also highlighted the challenges that the country needed to address for sustained economic growth.

Haque affirmed the significance of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that even during the pandemic, there was no undue delay in the project.

“Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) is an important part of CPEC and bilateral trade between Pakistan and China remains vigorous. Mineral, leather, sports goods, agricultural products, etc are all emerging sectors.”

Meanwhile, Asian Development Bank Principal Economist Kiyoshi Taniguchi stated that Pakistan’s structural challenges included economic mismanagement, lack of resilience to external shocks and lack of competitiveness.

“Although high cost of finance is a concern, access to credit to the private sector, especially to SMEs, is a more critical binding constraint,” he said.

“Investments in Pakistan have been historically low compared to other countries. Increasing FDI will require addressing the impediments including poor risk assessment, weak political stability, inconsistent policies and difficult business environment,” he said.

Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) Chairman Sulaiman S Mehdi said that during the second wave of the pandemic in Pakistan, the government initiated smart lockdown measures and maintained an open mode of industrial production, which was clearly sensible.

“In a sense, Pakistan is the beneficiary of the second wave of the epidemic as social expenditure has been converted into savings and entered Pakistan in the form of remittances.

“Besides, as industries in countries such as Bangladesh and India were completely blocked, export orders shifted to Pakistan, particularly in the textile industry. Very little motivation for travel abroad also helped preserve the foreign exchange reserves,” he added.

Mehdi said that growth in K-P indicated more financial support from the federal government, urban agglomeration and regional trade remittances from abroad.

“K-P can attract investments in industry, construction, agriculture, livestock, mining and tourism, and all these investments can be managed through friendly private sector policies.”

Talking about improving security situation in K-P, World Bank Group IFC Senior Sector Specialist Charles Schneider said, “K-P needs targeted investment methods, focusing on where the country and the province have comparable investment experience so far. Pakistan can learn from foreign direct investment projects. Project management methods are necessary to deal with strategic investors.”

Stressing the vital role of overseas Pakistanis in helping overcome challenges, JumpStart Pakistan Chairman Amjad Pervez said, “It is pertinent to encourage the confidence of overseas Pakistanis to invest and create prosperity in the country. Pakistani companies need access to reach global markets, which can help SMEs obtain financing.”

He also underlined the necessity of developing entrepreneurial human capital in Pakistan.

This article originally appeared on the China Economic Net

Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2021.

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