ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that economic diplomacy is the need of the hour and called for concerted efforts to make Pakistan part of the global production chain.
In his address of welcome at the envoys’ conference on economic diplomacy on Thursday, he said the world over only those economies had prospered that had innovated, melding ideas, knowledge, skills and resources to produce quality, cost-effective and value-added products that captured markets.
“If Pakistan is to develop on a sustainable basis; if Pakistan is to break the begging bowl once and for all; if we are to become an integral part of the global value chain, then we must better leverage our diplomatic machinery and harness our regional and global linkages, in pursuit of national development agenda,” he said.
Mr Qureshi said the government had placed economic revival and growth at the highest pedestal of its reform agenda.
Qureshi says economic revival, growth top on government’s reform agenda
“Our manifesto speaks of roadmaps on politico-economic diplomacy, on enhancing exports, boosting investments and alleviating poverty. Our 100-day performance attests to the priority we attach to it. In these 100 days, we have been able to secure support from key allies, and avert imminent balance of payments difficulties. But crisis aversion neither was, nor will be good enough. We have to do much better. The people of Pakistan expect this of us. Pakistan’s innate potential and inherent prospects, its immutable resilience and immense resources demand this of us.”
He said investments and trade were critical to the economic diplomacy agenda, but equally important was the need to scale up and prudently utilise development assistance flows and increase remittance through enhanced employment opportunities abroad for the country’s labour force.
Noting that there was no reason for pessimism, he talked in detail about the immense potential Pakistan was blessed with. He pointed out that Goldman Sachs had identified Pakistan as one of the Next Eleven economies that would become drivers of global growth this century.
He said Pakistan was projected to be the next big thing in international tourism. “Following exchange rate adjustments, our exports have been picking pace, increasing by 14 per cent, from $20.45 billion in 2016-17 to $23.33bn in 2017-18.”
The minister said the country’s GDP was expected to cross the 36-38 trillion rupee mark this year.
He said in the next phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a chain of special economic zones is set to be established across the length and breadth of the country. He underlined the need to effectively attract foreign investment, diversify export base and raise the country’s trade profile.
Mr Qureshi said unarguably, comparable countries with a smaller base, had done a much better job. “Unquestionably, the war on terror, the security situation and the chronic energy deficits have taxed our economy, and diverted our attention. But these are now past us. A more promising future beckons, provided we prepare for it,” he remarked.
He said the Foreign Office respects and understood the role of institutions. “We neither have the intent nor the capacity to assume that role. What we do have is a set of skills and a vantage point, which we feel, can add to the strength of other ministries.”
He, however, said there was a need to evolve genuine partnerships and build real synergies within departments, with the private sector, academia and research community. “Only then, will outcomes be scaled up and tangible benefits accrue to the people of Pakistan.”
The foreign minister said there was no reason for Pakistan to lag behind and expressed the confidence that the conference would be able to produce insights, and come up with an action plan of implementable recommendations.
Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2018