ISLAMABAD -  Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile Pervaiz Malik on Friday said that Pakistan offers liberal investment opportunities in energy, infrastructure, housing, agriculture and other sectors.

Addressing Pakistan Indonesia Business Forum, he said "Pakistan and Indonesia enjoy close relations based on religious affinity, mutual trust and cooperation. Our warm political ties transformed into a strong economic bond when during the visit of the president of Indonesia in November 2005, both sides signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)".

Under the umbrella of CEPA, he said both sides entered into a Preferential Trade Agreement in 2012 which has been operational since 2013. Since then bilateral trade has been on an upward trajectory, rising from $ 1.392 billion in 2012 to $ 2.375 billion in 2016-17. However, the trade growth has been one-sided. Whereas Indonesia's exports to Pakistan increased from $ 1.196 billion in 2012 to $ 2.238 billion in 2016-17, Pakistan's exports to Indonesia unfortunately declined from $ 196 million to $ 137 million during the same period, he added.

This not only raised serious questions over the viability of this PTA but also threatened the original plan to graduate to a comprehensive FTA between the two countries. He thanked the Indonesian government for not only removing the impediments to Pakistan's current exports but also, unilaterally, granting zero-rated market access on 20 priority items of Pakistan's export interest. "I am hopeful that this visionary gesture would not only bring some semblance of balance in our bilateral trade but also pave the way for our future cooperation".

Giving details on economic situation, Malik said Pakistan's economy has been on a path of recovery since 2013. During the last fiscal year the GDP registered growth of 5.3 %, the highest in last ten years.  He said "the government's effort to restore peace and stability and meeting energy requirements has helped Pakistan take strides towards economic prosperity.

The Large Scale Manufacturing in Pakistan recorded growth of 5.6% in fiscal year 2017, and the momentum continues in the current Fiscal year. The overall business sentiment in Pakistan has significantly improved which has encouraged a number of firms to pursue expansion plans."

The minister said that FDI in Pakistan has seen an upward surge and is expected to rise further with impetus provided by China Pakistan Economic Corridor related projects.

"According to economic forecasts by international financial institutions, Pakistan's economy can now look forward to steady growth in the coming years," he said.

"PricewaterhouseCoopers has recently forecasted that Pakistan could become world's 16th largest economy by 2050, overtaking countries like Italy and Canada. Morgan Stanley, Forbes, Bloomberg, Economist and Washington Post, all have been expressing similar optimism about Pakistan's future economic growth," he said.

"Backed by a rising economy, vast natural resources, and a young population, Pakistan is a dynamic nation that is brimming with potential. We are working to restore confidence of the investors/ businessmen, both local and foreign through our government's pro business and transparent policies," the minister said.