ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Monday claimed that economic fundamentals seem to be on the right track during the first six months (July-December) of the current financial year 2011-12.
He stated this while addressing the 8th session of Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Economic Commission (JEC) that started on Monday here in federal capital. The 8th session would continue for two days i.e. 16th and 17th January.The Finance Minister has said that Pakistan is focusing on trade and not the aid. “Trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan has risen from less than $200 million in 2000-01 to $2.5 billion in 2010-2011, yet it does not reflect the true potential that exits between the two countries”, he maintained.
“Our biggest challenge is to rebalance the economy that will achieve multiple goals of high economic growth, employment and reasonable price stability in an uncertain international economic and financial environment”, said the Finance Minister.He further said that both countries should work together for a comprehensive review of current tariff and non-tariff regime to pace up bilateral trade, identification of ways to diversify tradable goods and services, transacting informal trade through lawful channels and increased interaction of the two private sectors.
In this regards, the Finance Minister proposed early operationalisation of Memorandum of Understanding signed between Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) on March 16, 2008 for establishment of Joint Chamber of Commerce.
“We are also moving forward on two important regional projects including CASA 1000 and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline”, said the Finance Minister. He also said that Pakistan is committed to G-8 initiatives for Peshawar-Jalalabad expressway as well as Peshawar-Jalalabad rail link and to complete Torkham-Jalalabad highway project.
Talking about the economic situation of the country, he said that exports showed a growth of four per cent and recorded at $10.8 billion during the first six months of the ongoing fiscal year. Similarly, the imports also went up by 19 per cent with $19 billion, remittances are averaging $1 billion a month and revenue collection has demonstrated 27 per cent growth pitching at Rs 840 billion because of the tax policy and tax administration reform measures, he added.
He said that inflation is now at single digit after 25 years. Speaking on the occasion, Afghan Finance Minister Dr Hazrat Umar Zakhilwal said Pakistan and Afghanistan share deep-rooted historical, cultural and regional ties, however there is a need to strengthen economic relations as well.
Later officials of Pakistan and Afghanistan discussed to promote the bilateral trade between the two sides and to resolve the issues related to the transit trade between the two countries in the light of Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA). Pakistan and Afghanistan also reviewed the progress of projects launched in Kabul with Islamabad grant of $300 million.
Besides reviewing the implementation status of the last session, the participants at the 8th Pakistan Afghan Joint Economic Commission also discussed capacity building programmes for Afghanistan and cooperation in the sectors of education, engineering, culture, communication and tourism. – Nation