ISLAMABAD - The leading economic experts on Sunday underscored the urgent need for further enhancing trade and investment partnership with the United States (US) and European Union (EU) and importance of regional connectivity to Central Asia via Afghanistan for greater regional integration, besides bolstering tri-lateral trade.

They were addressing a workshop on “Strengthening Trade Relationship with World“ organised by former Senior Vice President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Meher Kashif Younis, said a press release received here. Speaking on the occasion, President SAARC Chamber Iftikhar Ali Malik urged US and EU private sector to lend financial supports to Pakistan for building connectivity with the Central Asian region via Afghanistan. He said Pakistan is financing important projects like Khyber-Pass Economic Corridor and CASA-1000 (Central Asia-South Asia power project) for regional connectivity and stressed the need to fully mobilise more financial resources through USA’s Development Finance Corporation and its private sector to achieve the desired results of regional connectivity.

He said: “USA is providing economic assistance for more stable, peaceful and prosperous Pakistan,” adding that the Pakistan is executing around $30 billion worth foreign funded projects in different sectors. He appreciated the USA’s $4.2 billion support under Pakistan enhanced partnership agreement since 2010. The SAARC president also urged US to provide direct markets access to Pakistani products to strengthen its national economy which suffered irreparable trillions of dollar loss in fight against terror in the region. He said Pakistan’s colossal sacrifices to quell and stamp out spate of terrorism were appreciated worldwide and widely acknowledged huge human losses besides destruction of infrastructure.

Presenting overview about Pak-US trade prospects, Meher Kashif Younis said the US remained top export destination of Pak products during first half of FY 2021-22 increased by 45.95 percent to $3.32 billion against $2.27 billion in FY 2020-2021. He said that Pakistan was currently the 56th largest trading partner with US with $6.6 billion in total (two-way) during the year 2019 while the US goods trade deficit with Pakistan was $1.3 billion.

Meher Kashif Younis said China has emerged second top export destination and exports to China grew by 59.05 percent to $1.33b against $837.91m in the corresponding period last year. While the UK ranked third top export destination showing an increase of 19.79 percent to $1.14 billion against $956.524 million during the period under review. He said exports to UAE, Germany, Netherland, Spain, Afghanistan and Bangladesh registered nominal increase however exports to Saudi Arabia and Canada dropped slightly. Shahid Nazir, Executive Committee Member said that it was high time for the US and EU private sector for injecting more direct or indirect investment in different sectors of Pakistan as Prime Minister Imran Khan had offered an excellent historic package of incentives to foreign investors under one window policy and all foreign investments across the world pouring in Pakistan had given full lawful protection.