Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Thursday urging collective approach in addressing shared challenges and mutually beneficial cooperation called for enhanced regional connectivity and integration for success. “Destiny has made us neighbours and put us together, let us now make conscious efforts to build a harmonious region, through mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilisations and pursuit of common development.”
Addressing the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Meeting Titled “Asia’s New Future: Identifying New Growth Drivers”, the Prime Minister said trans-national roads, rails, oil and gas pipelines, institutions of higher learning, centres of excellence of scientific innovation and better performing financial sector would be real drivers of growth for Asia in the coming years.
“We strongly believe that shared prosperity is the real prosperity,” the Prime Minister told the participants of the economic forum. Premier Li Keqiang of China and other leaders also attended the forum. He said since its inception, the Boao Forum has transformed itself into a globally recognised platform contributing to evolving ideas that truly reflect the voice of Asia, on global economic issues.
He congratulated the government of China for an opportunity to the leaders from friendly countries to discuss measures necessary to keep pace with the changing trends of global economy. He said the Conference was taking place at a critical juncture as recently the world had witnessed the worst financial crisis of modern history that crippled the global economy.
“We are witnessing a transition of economic power from West to East, as Asia is increasingly becoming the powerhouse of the global economy.” He said the forces of globalisation, urbanisation and innovation in technology were changing not only the destiny of Asia, but also of the entire world. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said over the years, Asia has become a leading player of the global economy, with emerging Asian economies growing at twice the average growth rate in other regions. He said China was, of course, a major stimulant to this remarkable phenomenon. Nawaz Sharif said despite stagnant growth rates in various parts of the industrialised world and the massive shocks faced by the international financial system since 2008, China has consistently registered high growth rates.
“This remarkable growth augurs well for all of us.” He said the world recently witnessed a recession that adversely affected the global economy. He said since destinies of regional countries were linked together therefore common development can be pursued only through a co-ordinated effort. The Prime Minister offered four elements as new growth drivers for Asia. He said maintenance of peace and security were critical to economic growth as peace and development were strongly linked.
He said for an interconnected global economy, any armed conflict can be devastating. “Conflict prevention and conflict resolution should, therefore, be accorded high priority. We must strengthen peace mechanisms to ensure economic growth.” He termed Regional Connectivity as the most important driver of steady growth for developing countries of Asia in this decade.
“We must strive for greater regional connectivity, particularly through roads, rails and the sea-lanes. As we all know, infrastructure development stimulates investment, provides job opportunities and connects billions of consumers.” The Prime Minister also shared the common resolve of Pakistan and China to take a lead in creating regional connectivity links.
“Jointly, we are pursuing our common dream of building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. This would enhance economic and trade cooperation and promote economic integration, and foster economic development of the two countries.” The Prime Minister termed investment in research, development and technological innovation is essential for Asia’s economic growth. Developing countries, which often lag behind in the technology ladder, should be assisted with technology transfer in critical areas, he said.
He said that Asian countries were blessed with a huge asset of its youth. “By creating more economic opportunities for our youth, we can achieve a miracle.” “Our youth is committed, talented and dynamic. In Pakistan, we have launched a number of schemes for youth, like easy access to loan for starting new businesses, and scholarships for pursuing higher studies.” He said, “We intend to invest more in our youth, as we believe this great asset would be the real driver of future growth.”
The Prime Minister stressed that all growth strategies would be futile without investment in green energy technologies and closer attention to clean environment and sustainable development. “Faced with challenges of urbanisation, Asia must prudently address demographic pressures on the environment,” he said. The Prime Minister said the salient points laid down by him for Asia were also being pursued in the context of Pakistan.
“We are striving for a peaceful neighbourhood by focusing on resolution of disputes and improving regional security”. He said since assuming office last year, the economic policies chartered by his government have been started producing results. He said after the easing acute energy shortfall by clearing liabilities in the energy sector. “We embarked upon an economic rebuilding plan last year and presented an austerity budget by cutting wasteful expenditure and abolished discretionary grants besides minimising subsidies.”
He said to increase the business footprint in the country, a deregulation plan was in place that includes a greater role for private equity in business.” He said that Pakistan was emerging from the ravages of war on terror, which inflicted immeasurable damage on its economy in the last one decade. “The Pakistan of 2014 is a confident country, open for business, trade and investment. We assure you ease of business and healthy dividends on your investment,” the Prime Minister said.
He said the sagacious leadership of China was overseeing rapid strides in the Chinese economy. This, he said would help reinforce Asian and global economic growth. In China, it is said that a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step. The step taken by China’s great leader, Deng Xioping in 1978, led to a reform process that has put China on the road to “the Chinese dream”, which has been articulated with great clarity by President Xi Jinping. He said that Asia can also begin a similar journey of prosperity by taking the single step of collective approach, in addressing shared challenges and by win-win cooperation.