Islamabad - The 6th session of Pakistan-Nepal Joint Economic Commission (JEC) began in Islamabad on Monday wherein both sides agreed to extend cooperation in fields of energy, agriculture, telecommunication, health, education and textile.
The sixth session of Nepal-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission would conclude today (Tuesday). Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar led the Pakistani side and Shankar Parsad Koirala, Minister for Finance, Government of Nepal, led the Nepalese side. Pakistan and Nepal have also agreed to expand the areas of cooperation in economic and cultural fronts.
In his remarks, finance minister Senator Ishaq Dar said that JEC would certainly offer an opportunity to both countries to move forward together in the fields of trade, agriculture, education, energy, information technology and other sectors where both countries have comparative advantages. “Pakistan is mindful of the fact that existing cordial and friendly relations between Pakistan and Nepal can be further translated into substantial economic and commercial cooperation. This forum can help in harnessing the true potential of mutual trade.”
Senator Ishaq Dar further said, “There exist enormous opportunities for bilateral investment and joint ventures through public-public and public private partnerships. Pakistan is keen to enhance its existing friendly ties with Nepal for exploring new avenues for cooperation in commercial and economic fields for mutual benefit of Nepal and Pakistan”.
Talking about the country’s economic situation, the finance minister said Pakistan has started major reform program that aims at fiscal stabilization, mobilizing domestic resources, phasing out subsides, restructuring the power sector and other public sector enterprises and strengthening the social safety nets.
Senator Ishaq Dar said that Pakistan has been able to maintain a reasonable growth trajectory despite internal and external challenges such as the war against terror, severe energy crises and phenomenal surge in commodity prices over the last few years.
The economy on average grew since 2008-09 at around 3%. Pakistan has fixed a GDP growth target of 4-5% during the next financial year. Pakistan has been witnessing improvement in foreign investor’s confidence on the policies of the new government. As is evident that post-2013 election, the capital market crossed 23,000 plus points emitting positive signals to investor’s 5 confidences, he added.
There is certainly a need for taking concrete measures for increasing and diversifying bilateral trade and we are quite optimistic that the conclusion of Free Trade Agreement will open new vistas in promoting our trade, Dar said. “Pakistan at the moment is confronted with severe energy crises. It is gratifying to know that Nepal has developed expertise to explore alternate sources of energy. Pakistan wishes an active engagement of Alternate Energy Board of Pakistan with Alternate Energy Promotion Centre of Nepal for sharing their experience in this area. A memorandum of understanding, which is to be signed shortly, will pave the way for furthering the collaboration in this sector”.
Speaking on the occasion, Shanker Prasad Koirala, Minister for Finance, Government of Nepal, said there is a good scope of promoting trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. Cooperation in the fields, such as, agriculture tourism, education and culture, health, textiles and leather industries would contribute in the economic development and prosperity of our people. Nepal has emerged as one of the finest Pashmina producers. We do see potentials that our agriculture products like cardamom, tea, cofee, medicinal herbs can find a reasonable space in Pakistani market.
He appreciated the Government of Pakistan’s decision to allow duty free access of Nepalese tea in Pakistan, and hoped this would find continuity with commensurate simplification of procedure at the Karachi port. Though our bilateral trade volume is small, he said, still Nepal has significant trade deficit with Pakistan. We need to improve the trade environment between the two countries, by reforming both tariff and non-tariff barriers and preferential cargo tariffs.
Nepal’s finance minister said on economic front, despite challenges, economy is growing steadily. We expect the growth rate in current year will boost to 5.5 percent. Mostly the macroeconomic indicators are at satisfactory level. “There have been good institutional linkages between the private sectors of Nepal and Pakistan which need to be revitalized. Frequent exchange of business delegations, organization of trade and tourism fairs in both the countries, and collaboration between the two private sectors would give added impetus to the promotion of trade and commerce. Nepal has given special emphasis on the public-private partnership for economic development of the country where private sector can play a lead role”.