WASHINGTON

Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar has held separate meetings with US Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and the head of Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Ms Elizabeth Littlefield, on Friday as he continued his talks aimed at strengthening Islamabad-Washington economic ties on the sidelines of Spring session of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

According to a Pakistan Embassy press release, Dar shared with the Deputy Secretary of State and OIC chief the important achievements in the economic sector that led to upgrading of Pakistan’s economic outlook in recent months. The significant decrease in inflation, growing foreign exchange reserves, stable exchange rate and shrinking fiscal deficit were the results of sound economic policies pursued by the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He informed that the government will continue to undertake structural reforms for creating investment friendly environment especially in energy, infrastructure development, large scale manufacturing and agriculture sectors. Finance Minister also briefed the US side on the ongoing efforts for return and rehabilitation of temporarily displaced persons to their homes in FATA following the clearing of areas by the successful military operations.

Noting the significant improvement in the security situation in the country, Deputy Secretary Blinken stressed the need to continue building momentum on expanded trade, investment and economic cooperation between Pakistan and the United States. The two sides also agreed that energy remains the vital area with immense potential for enhanced cooperation. In this context, it was emphasised that the forthcoming meeting of the Working Group on Energy should review the entire range of collaboration to assist Pakistan in overcoming its energy deficiency.

The two sides also discussed the situation of peace and security in the broader region, according to the press release. It was agreed that a collective response of the international community was imperative to address the emerging threats to international peace and security.

With Ms. Littlefield and her team, the finance minister and discussed OPIC’s programme portfolio and the projects in pipeline in Pakistan. Finance Minister apprised Ms Littlefield the “excellent” economic recovery which was attracting investors to make new investment or expand operations in Pakistan. He said international agencies had acknowledged the economic recovery. The IMF Board, he said, has recently cleared 6th review without any waiver and Moody’s has also upgraded Pakistan’s outlook from Stable. He observed that in view of the renewed interest of investors OPIC can increase its presence in Pakistan and finance more projects especially in the energy sector.

Ms Elizabeth Littlefield congratulated the finance minister over the successful review of IMF’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme and improvement in rating by Moody’s. She stated that Pakistan had staged a remarkable recovery in a very short span of time and the investors’ interest had evidently increased. Ms Littlefield informed Finance Minister Dar to look into some of the pending issues of its wind energy projects of 50 MW each. She said that though the size of these projects was not big yet it was clean renewable energy and improve its energy mix.

The finance minister informed Ms Littlefield that Government of Pakistan was working on generation of 7000 MW of electricity from hydel, coal, wind and LNG. He assured President OPIC of all possible help in removing glitches in its projects which are in pipeline. He apprised her about the import of LNG which will be used to produce electricity and asked OPIC to provide financing to US companies interested in these projects.

Ms Littlefield appreciated the idea and invited the government of Pakistan to identify projects on which OPIC can help, according to the press release. She also flagged utilising Pakistani-American Diaspora for investment in various projects in Pakistan.