The pandemic has shown us how regional cooperation can be a desirable goal. If we had a pre-existing cooperation, high quality tracking systems, paperless trade and smooth customs cooperation, travel bubbles, we could have dealt with the pandemic better.
So, the pandemic has taught us to embrace, to diversify and to come together on a new journey to surmount these challenges,” said Safdar Parvez, Director at Asian Development Bank (ADB), at an online research conference organized by the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Institute in partnership with the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) and ADB with the theme of Covid-19 and potential for economic recovery in CAREC.
The main objective of the conference was to identify means to revisit and rethink past, present, and future of CAREC in the wake of the pandemic and catalyze research on acute topics and produce timely and relevant analytics that could aid CAREC economies stay in the forefront of sustainable development.
Researchers from Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE); COMSATS University (Pakistan); Policy Research, Innovation, Development and Education (PRIDE) of Pakistan; State Bank of Pakistan presented along with researchers and practitioners from the World Economic Forum, National University of Singapore, Xinjiang University of Finance and Economics, and renowned Turkish, Central Asian, and European institutions.
A research on Pakistan’s energy, industry, and investment overview analyzed unbalanced structure of energy consumption, power grid losses, low utilization of renewable energy sources, and heavy taxation of enterprises which impeded investment.
In this light, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was viewed as an opportunity to improve Pakistan’s transportation and logistics conditions, and make Pakistan a geographic entry port and trade area for the Chinese energy.
Proposals were made to transfer part of China’s petroleum refining industry to Pakistan and combine it with Pakistan’s textile industry to promote development of Pakistan’s industrial economy.
The government debt was also analyzed and recovery scenarios were proposed.
To reduce debt to a sustainable 60% by 2030, Pakistan will need to reach and maintain 10% GDP growth.
In the light of research on adaptability of the Pakistan workforce towards remote work arrangements during the pandemic, policy recommendations suggested investment in development of ICT infrastructure for improving productivity of the country’s workforce and ensure preparedness for future uncertainties.
The conference materials will be published as a book at the end of 2021.