Haroon Sharif, former Minister of State, attends the 11th Asia Research Forum held on November 16, 2021 via video link.
ISLAMABAD, Nov 22 (Gwadar Pro) C Pakistan must work on several structural reforms to maximize the people-centered outcomes of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for the benefit of its young and large workforce, Haroon said Sharif, former Minister of State.
Sharif pointed out that the China Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the strategic CPEC laid a solid foundation for regional connectivity during their participation in the 11th Asia Research Forum held on Tuesday via video link.
He added that as a transformational investment, the success of CPEC is essential for China and Pakistan to demonstrate their ability to steer this region towards sustainable growth.
To maintain sustainable growth, Pakistan must first strengthen the structure and orientation of its bureaucracy towards a growth-friendly system.
The mindset of the bureaucracy should change to facilitate rather than control business. Reform is not about making new laws, in fact a lot of letting go, Sharif said.
By reducing the costs of doing business, more FDI will flow into Pakistan to stimulate its economic development.
Second, the private sector should play a major role in economic diplomacy where geographic proximity is central. While inefficient sectors that have thrived on patronage and state protection should be abandoned.
To maintain sustainable growth, Sharif advised exploring areas with long-term potential. Pakistan has four sectors of comparative advantage, namely value added textiles, food based agriculture, IT services and light engineering base.
Third, investment in regional knowledge networks will be crucial to maintain its key position in new regional markets. Pakistan must benefit from the research and development expertise of China and the rest of Asia and link its universities and think tanks to those of its Asian neighbors.
Sharif said: We need to invest in research and talent to improve our competitiveness. Investing in people has paid off very well in China. Its inclusive growth policies have given citizens a share of economic growth.
Sharif said Pakistan and China should further encourage bilateral financial and technical cooperation for sustainable development and promote the development of Pakistan-China relations. The role of China-Pakistan Investment Company should be expanded as a strong development finance institution.
He added that perhaps it was time for Pakistan to modernize the microfinance sector to reach out to SMEs and introduce private equity instruments to reduce the funding gap and energize the finance market.
I think China and Pakistan should work together, with Chinese technology and Pakistani workforce combined. We can jointly export goods to regional and international markets, Sharif said.
This article originally appeared on Gwadar Pro.