ICCI for Regional Economic Cooperation to improve economy

  • August 03, 2013
The trend of rising Chinese investment in Pakistan, especially in energy sector has given a new hope to businessmen as they expect it would reduce energy crisis and help in expanding business activities. However, for sustainable economic development, it is essential that the government should also focus on promoting economic cooperation with all regional countries that offer tremendous scope for promoting trade and exports.
These remarks were made by Zafar Bakhtawari, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry while welcoming the signing of MoU between the Punjab Government and Norinco International Corporation Limited of China for setting up 300MW solar power plant in Cholistan.
Zafar Bakhtawari said strong regional economic cooperation is an acknowledged tool for economic prosperity but termed it unfortunate that Pakistan has yet to promote strong relations with South and Central Asian countries to take full benefits of regional economic integration. 
He said due to lack of regional cooperation, intra-regional trade in South Asia has stagnated at around just 5 percent of its total trade while East Asia enjoys 50 percent regional trade and Latin America around 20 percent. Even Sub-Saharan Africa with poor transport and telecommunication infrastructure has over 10 percent intra-regional trade.
He said Pakistan can also significantly overcome its energy problems by working for an integrated regional electricity grid with South Asia which will not only reduce power costs; it will also enhance manufacturing competitiveness for all South Asian countries.
Zafar Bakhtawari said Pakistan should also make efforts for the development of rail, road and air links with regional countries that would facilitate the flow of trade across the region and would greatly reduce the costs of doing business. 
He said Pakistan should work for developing strong private sector connectivity with South Asia which is essential to promote regional economic cooperation. He was hopeful that Pakistan’s strong economic cooperation with its neighbors would serve as a credible instrument for peace, poverty alleviation, economic prosperity.