Pak committed to economic coop for poverty cut: PM

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Proposes CAREC Aviation and Open Skies Agreement; CPEC will complement regional connectivity initiatives of CAREC: Dar

Mian Arshad

Islamabad—Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said Pakistan was committed to promote economic cooperation through regional integration to achieve the goal of poverty reduction.
Addressing the 15th ministerial meeting of Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) here, the Prime Minister said for the collective benefit of the region, it was necessary for the governments of the member countries to work towards betterment of their people.
The Prime Minister said CAREC is an important programme that encourages the regional countries to develop the areas mainly physical network, infrastructure, peace, stability and economic development.
He mentioned that the forum was significant in poverty reduction by facilitating trade policies among its member countries. He welcomed the delegates from 200 countries and expressed confidence that their attendance at the CAREC meeting would help realize the dream of region’s prosperity and development.
Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan, which became the member of CAREC in 2010, was pro-active in facilitating projects critical to sustainable development.
He proposed a few measures for the promotion of CAREC’s vision, including the establishment of pool of experts of CAREC countries to work on knowledge in human resource.
The expertise of these experts in sectors of finance, banking, marketing, energy and infrastructure could be utilized, which would result in intra-regional transfer of knowledge, he added. He said Pakistan was abundantly complied with international standards in trade activities and mentioned the improved economic conditions of the country.
The Prime Minister suggested that along with Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority, the CAREC countries could work on the “CAREC Aviation and Open Skies Agreement”.
He appreciated that CAREC had mobilized 29 billion dollar in the projects of development of region and hoped that the mid-term review of CAREC in next 10 years would prove as an opportunity to fast track economic cooperation.
Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan believed CAREC as a premier organization to promote cooperation among member countries, particularly in areas of energy, transportation and trade policy facilitation.
He said Pakistan is a key facilitator of CAREC, bridging the South Asia and Central Asia.
The situation had never been more challenging, however, we are cognizant of dealing with them effectively, he added. The Prime Minister mentioned that Pakistan government was experiencing an economic revival at present, with a greater momentum gained in energy, transport and infrastructure activities under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
He hoped that besides Pakistan, the benefits of CPEC would be multiplied for the CAREC countries as well with the cooperation and integration of member countries.
The 15th Ministerial Conference of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Wednesday finalized the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) Establishing the CAREC Institute.
Conference also recommended by the CAREC Road Safety Strategy 2017-2030, CAREC Railway Strategy 2017-2030, the CAREC 2020 Mid-Term Review, the ABCI Investment Framework, launching of the Regional Food Safety Initiative; and Georgia’s membership in CAREC.
Ministerial conference was pleased with the progress made in the Almaty-Bishkek Corridor Initiative (ABCI), the pilot for CAREC economic corridor development and endorsed the investment framework and its vision of the Almaty-Bishkek Corridor as a dynamic and diversified region anchored on export-oriented, knowledge and skill intensive services, modernized agriculture-cum-agri-business and tourism as new growth drivers. Georgia was also welcomed for its interest in joining the CAREC.
This year the theme of the ministerial conference was “Linking Connectivity with Economic Transformation in CAREC”. Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the conference with Vice President Asian Development Bank (ADB) Wencai Zhang as co-chair. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif graced the inaugural session of the Ministerial Conference. President, ADB Takehiko Nakao was also present on the occasion.
Addressing the conference the Finance Minister appreciated the leadership of President Nakao and thanked him for the continued commitment of ADB to support economic cooperation and development amongst CAREC member states.
He welcomed the ministers and senior officials from ten member states, i.e, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan who are attending this conference.
Senator Ishaq Dar also warmly welcomed Georgia, the newest and 11th member of the CAREC family and said that it was a memorable occasion that Georgia joined the CAREC family at the 15th Ministerial conference hosted in Pakistan. Genadi Arveladze, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia presented remarks on behalf of his country and formally joined the ministerial conference.
Multilateral and international development agencies including International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, UNDP, Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), USAID, DFID of UK, EBRD and WTO participated in the meeting.
Representatives of these agencies expressed their continued support to the CAREC forum and congratulated Pakistan for holding the 15th Ministerial Conference, stating that it is a sign of the country’s commitment towards regional cooperation, increased connectivity, shared prosperity and elimination of poverty.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar while chairing the meeting gave an overview of Pakistan’s economy and said that all key macroeconomic indicators have recorded significant improvement in the country over the past three years. He underlined that improvement in fiscal sustainability, foreign exchange reserve position, and governance structures, has led to the emergence of Pakistan as a trustworthy and long-term destination for global partnerships, collaboration and investment.
He said that Pakistan is now well positioned to play a pivotal role in enhancing economic cooperation between CAREC member states. He emphasized the importance of developing road, rail and energy corridors within the CAREC countries and said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will complement the regional connectivity initiatives of CAREC countries as it offers a massive opportunity for connectivity between Central Asia, Middle East and Africa and is bound to play a defining role in the economic development of CAREC region.
The Finance Minister said that the conference provides a valuable opportunity for enhancement of regional ties in four areas of CAREC focus, i.e. Energy, Transportation, Trade Policy and Trade Facilitation. Dar said that infrastructure development was a prerequisite to increased growth and urged the multilateral partners to increase their development collaboration with CARERC member states in this area to bridge the financing gaps.
Representatives from all participating countries expressed their condolence to the Finance Minister on the loss of life and the tragedy which struck the Quetta Police Training College. They expressed solidarity with Pakistan in the time of grief.
The Ministerial Conference was followed by a CAREC Ministerial Retreat with Finance Minister of Pakistan and President ADB in the chair. The participants exchanged candid views and ideas to explore maximum opportunities to ensure better economic cooperation and regional connectivity among the CAREC Member countries and resolved to undertake all the challenges collectively. They expressed gratitude to the government of Pakistan for the hospitality and congratulated the Finance Minister for successful conduct of all activities within the CAREC programme.

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