Pakistan Federal Minister of Finance Ishaq Dar met with Deputy Secretary William J. Burns and Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Catherine Novelli today to discuss a range of strategic and economic issues. As part of these discussions, Minister Dar and Under Secretary Novelli co-chaired the U.S.-Pakistan Economic and Finance Working Group in Washington D.C. on April 9. The Economic and Finance Working Group is one of five working groups under the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, and provides a forum to build bilateral economic ties and advance Pakistan’s long-term economic growth and stability.
The working group discussed ways of moving President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif’s economic agenda forward by increasing bilateral trade and investment flows over five years. Under Secretary Novelli congratulated Minister Dar and his economic team for the progress in stabilizing Pakistan’s economy since they came to power nine months ago. Following up on President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif’s meeting in October 2013, Under Secretary Novelli and Finance Minister Dar held an initial discussion about elements that could be included in a joint plan to expand trade and investment flows over the next five years. With the private sector leading the way, both sides will look at ways to implement the recommendations of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Pakistan Business Council and identify concrete steps in advancing the commercial relationship. The United States and Pakistan will hold more in-depth discussions about the joint plan at the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting in May 2014. In the context of this joint plan, both sides agreed to continue engagement on a U.S.-Pakistan Bilateral Investment Treaty and scheduling a third U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities conference.
The two sides reviewed the status of U.S. economic and development cooperation in Pakistan in the areas of energy, economic growth and agriculture, stabilization, education, and health. Projects funded by the United States are expected to supply over 1,400 MW to the Pakistani power system by the end of 2014, enough to supply electricity to about 16 million people. Under Secretary Novelli and Finance Minister Dar also highlighted the significance of USAID’s Pakistan Private Investment Initiative, a partnership between USAID and three private equity firms to invest in small and medium sized enterprises in Pakistan. The two sides looked forward to the rollout of these investment funds in the summer.
Both sides highlighted the potential for greater regional economic cooperation. The U.S. side thanked Pakistan for its leadership in advancing the CASA-1000 electricity transmission line project. Under Secretary Novelli highlighted the April 14-16 Central Asia Business Opportunities (CABO) conference in Islamabad. The CABO conference will bring together approximately 200 private and public sector participants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Central Asian Republics enhancing and promoting further regional economic cooperation.
The U.S. delegation included senior representatives from the Department of State, the National Security Council, The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of Treasury, the Office of U.S. Trade Representative, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).