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‘Balancing GDP growth, social stability important for Pakistan’

ISLAMABAD: With an annual growth of nearly five per cent, Pakistan’s economy is now on the path to stability, and taking this advantage the government should try to create a balance between the economic growth and social stability, Ambassador of Japan Takashi Kurai said on Monday.

While he acknowledged that creating a balance between the two is difficult for many countries, he emphasised that it is a very important task for Pakistan.

“I believe the government is well aware of the importance of increasing access to education and health, narrowing gender gap, raising literacy rate and improving standards of living of the people,” he said while talking to Dawn.

Social stability should also improve as there are varied standards of living in Pakistan and the number of salaried people is also high, he said.

At the same time, broadening tax base, reducing debt and introducing structural reforms in the economy should also be tackled with as it would help achieve sustainable and long-term economic stability, he observed.

Regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Japanese envoy said it was a huge project and he wished that it would be implemented successfully and benefit the people of Pakistan.

On Japan’s participation in the CPEC, the ambassador said: “If we find any project feasible and beneficial to Pakistan, whether it is included in the framework of the CPEC or not, Japan would consider its participation.”

He said Japan has already been providing a fair amount of development assistance to Pakistan, and to some extent the two countries are enjoying business relationship now on a commercial basis.

Bilateral trade growth has entered into double digits to reach $2 billion while investment stood at over $7 million in 2015, the envoy said, foreseeing increasing level of economic and business relations between the two countries.

As Pakistan’s trade balance is negative, the country should increase exports to Japan to create a balance, he suggested. One of the fundamental reasons for small export volume is that Pakistan exports low-value products like raw materials, he said, stressing that the country should export high-value products.

For instance, Pakistan’s apparel exports accounted for around 30pc of overall textile exports, whereas Bangladesh’s high-value products comprised 90pc of overall textile exports, he mentioned.

Ambassador Kurai expected a high-level Japanese business delegation to visit Pakistan some time next year. This visit would be the follow-up to a similar visit of Japanese delegation which held extensive talks with government and business people last November.

Japanese businessmen who were part of the delegation clearly recognised that there is still more room for increasing both trade and investment relations between Pakistan and Japan, he said.

It is now necessary that the elements identified by the delegation for increasing trade and business relations should be put into action.

The elements include security situation, betterment of business environment and improvement in infrastructure, particularly energy and water supply.

courtesy : dawn news

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