Prime Minister's Statement at the luncheon hosted by USPBC

October 21, 2015

Statement by the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif at the luncheon hosted by US-Pakistan Business Council (USPBC)

Washingtonthe 21st October, 2015

 

(As delivered)

 

Ambassador Michael Froman

Mr. Miles Young, Chairman US-Pakistan Business Council,

Mr. Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, US Chamber of Commerce,

Mr. Espie Jelalian, President US-Pakistan Business Council,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is my distinct pleasure to be among the leading US businessmen, executives, bankers, and industry leaders this afternoon at the US Chamber of Commerce.

 

The US Chamber of Commerce is the symbol of American enterprise and dynamism, and has been a close and a trusted partner of Pakistan, through the US-Pakistan Business Council. The Chamber has been promoting business to business collaboration between the two sides, over the years.

 

In this regard, I would like to particularly thank Chairman Miles Young and Executive Director Espie Jelalian for their commendable efforts in promoting trade, economic and business relations between Pakistan and the US.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I had the privilege of interacting with your Council in October 2013, soon after being elected to Office.  You might recall that I had outlined my Government’s economic goals and objectives during that interaction.

 

Today, I would like to highlight how Pakistan has emerged as an attractive and thriving market for business and investment opportunities, since the last time I had spoken to this Chamber.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I am happy to share that Pakistan has greatly improved its internal security situation, as well as achieved effective governance and public service delivery, resulting in robust economic indicators, in a short span of time.

 

 

We have made a strategic choice to take on terrorists of all hues and colours through a comprehensive strategy, involving stringent law enforcement measures as well as targeted military operations. As a result of these concerted national efforts, we have seen a marked improvement in the internal security situation in Pakistan, with the current year witnessing the lowest number of terrorist attacks since 2007.

 

We are confident that the improved security situation in Pakistan would lead to withdrawal of travel advisories on Pakistan.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Pakistan’s economic upturn is being noted worldwide.

 

Leading international publications, funds managers and rating agencies have acknowledged outstanding economic performance of Pakistan. Bloomberg has described Pakistan as the best undiscovered frontier market. Morgan Stanley’s Vice President has predicted that the rise of Pakistan is only a matter of time, on account of its strategic location and demographic dividends. Moody’s has upgraded Pakistan from CAA 1 to B-, while Standard and Poor’s have improved our outlook to Positive. On the other hand, Fitch has given a rating of B to Pakistan. All these positive assessments have been made on the back of a major turnaround in Pakistan’s economy.  

 

The GDP has grown by 4.24 % in the fiscal year 2015, which is the highest in the last seven years. Inflation was at 4.6% in the same year and in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, it is at historic low of less than 2%.  The per capita income has risen by 12.91% in the first two years of our Government. Our budget deficit has been brought down from 8.2% to 5.3% in the same period. During this period, tax revenues have increased by about 33%, due to measures aimed at tax-net broadening and removal of exemptions. Another notable achievement is the rebuilding of the country’s foreign exchange. This has led to exchange rate stability also.

 

We will continue to take steps to further strengthen these economic gains.

 

Overcoming energy shortages remains the top most priority for my Government. We have evolved a comprehensive strategy, geared towards overcoming the energy problem on a sustainable basis. Our goal is to overcome energy shortages by 2017.

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Pakistanis among the few places in the world that offer the promise of land, geography and people, all at the same time. Increased urbanization, favourable demographics, growing middle class and economically empowered women and youth, are the recognized drivers of growth. Pakistan has all these.

 

Pakistanhas one of the most attractive investment regimes in the world, allowing foreign investors 100% repatriation of profits and easy convertibility into foreign exchange.

 

Numerous investment opportunities are available in the Energy, Consumer goods, Food & Agriculture, Housing, Health care, Education, Finance Services, Capital Markets, Information Technology, Oil & Gas and Infrastructure sectors of Pakistan.

 

We have also enacted Special Economic Zone Act, which provides numerous investment incentives.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

My government would like the private sector to flourish and provide the best possible services to the people of Pakistan.

 

With this objective, we restarted privatization program in 2013, which aims to improve the efficiency of and service provision by the Public Sector Enterprises.

The privatization program offers a range of Public Sector Enterprises for sale in the oil and gas, power and financial sectors, through capital market transitions and other modes.

 

Out of 40 such Public Sector Enterprises, shares of three enterprises namely, United Bank Limited, Pakistan Petroleum Limited and Allied Bank Limited have already been divested, while the work on the rest is being pursued vigorously.

 

Furthermore, the government has also successfully auctioned spectrum licenses for 3 G and 4 G for mobile networks, through a transparent and competitive process.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

No region has lagged as far behind in the world today as South Asia. To lift our people out of poverty, we must first of all establish peace in the region.

 

Pakistan, therefore, seeks good relations with all its neighbours.

 

I firmly believe that shared prosperity is real prosperity. We cannot maintain peace within, unless there is peace without. This is what under-pins my approach to a peaceful and friendly neighbourhood.

 

One of the key pillars of my government’s foreign policy is to support and encourage greater regional integration and connectivity. This is where we have our biggest opportunities to reap the dividends of peace for the common good of our peoples.

 

Indeed, the most promising element of this policy is the recently launched China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is a fusion of several development and connectivity initiatives, focusing on infrastructure, energy, Gwadar port and industrial cooperation. This multi-billion dollar project will spur regional economic integration and bring prosperity to the entire region and beyond.

 

At the same time, Pakistan is also working on other regional energy and connectivity projects including Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, Central Asia South Asia (CASA)-1000 electricity project, Torkham-Jalalabad Road and Kunar Power Project.

 

Our recent decision to accede to the TIR Convention is another manifestation of our resolve towards spurring connectivity and enhanced trade in the region.

 

We also remain committed to the full implementation of the Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement. We are willing to expand its coverage to include other Central Asian states.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

The United States remains one of the most important economic and trading partners of Pakistan. Major US companies have invested billions of dollars in Pakistan. The US also remains a major destination for Pakistani exports.

 

Pakistanwill continue to encourage active investment of US companies in Pakistan, especially in the backdrop of our recent economic achievements. At the same, I would like to reiterate the need for greater market access for Pakistani products in the US markets for the mutual benefit of our economies. We expect that the US Pakistan Business Council will continue to play its positive role towards this end.

 

I thank you.