KARACHI - Secretary General (Federal) of the Businessmen Panel (BMP), Ahmad Jawad has said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recently concluded three-day visit to Washington was aimed at resetting US–Pakistan relations. The relationship has been under great strain for several years and reached its nadir after the assumption of office by Donald Trump in 2017, he said and added that though US visit has resulted in great diplomatic achievement for which business community felicitates him.

In a statement issued here on Monday, Ahmad Jawad said that after resuming technical support by US to our armed Forces and the resolve to open trade routes between two countries was one of the achievements of the incumbent government and it was vital for uplifting of the economy.

He said, “Bilaterally, enhanced cooperation in trade and investment offers vast potential. Pakistan is a growing buyer of natural gas, steel scrap, soybeans and technology services—all major U.S. exports. The U.S. offers the world’s largest market for all products, including Pakistan’s major exports especially textile. Under President Trump, the U.S. is seeking balance in its trade relationships. Wins are on offer in multiple areas of trade and investment. Economic systems and financial markets in the two countries would take a cue from their leaders to reinvigorate this relationship to mutual advantage.”

US is Pakistan’s prime export market

The Secretary General BMP further stated that said trade and investment are the most promising areas to build a future Pakistan-US relationship. The US is Pakistan’s prime export market. Pakistani exports are held back due to lack of competitive capacity. Pakistan’s current industrialization drive should target production for exports to the huge US as well as Chinese and Asian markets, he added.

Similarly, even though US official assistance to Pakistan will be minimal and conditional, Pakistan should make a concerted effort to invite US private investment into the vast and untapped economic opportunities that exist in almost every sector of the Pakistan economy, including the SEZs and the privatization programme. Apart from finance, such investment will bring advanced management techniques and production technologies to Pakistan.

Pakistan and the US also agreed before that there are vast opportunities for regional economic cooperation and integration, although their respective regional priorities are not yet fully convergent.

The BMP official further viewed Government and the Military have taken the appropriate stance with respect to the US. The demand to ‘do more’ is clearly unacceptable. Pakistan has already paid a very heavy price for the war on terror. We have lost over 70,000 valuable lives and the conservative estimate of the economic cost to the economy since 2001-02 is $125 billion. This is almost four times the combined security and economic assistance received from the US. Jawad said that the time has come now to move decisively towards greater self-reliance instead of only a ‘holding operation’ with minimum policy action till the next elections. It is imperative that a much stronger trade policy be put in place on a priority basis. However, it’s too early to say whether this exchange of economic and political favours between Washington and Islamabad will lead to a resetting of relations, he concluded.