Pakistan’s location at the confluence of interlocking regions and civilizations of South Asia West Asia, Central Asia, Gulf Region and China, offers the closet proximity to word’s largest markets. Being at the intersection of East Asia and the Middle East naturally endows Pakistan with promising geo-economic possibilities as a transit corridor for energy pipelines, trade and tourist flows, especially with China Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC project in place.
For a nation to progress it needs to prepare a coherent road map for action and adopt strategies to implement the policies that would lead towards the objectives. Hence Pakistan is adopting a national vision — “Vision 2025” — designed to represent an aspirational destination. It is serving as a critical guidepost for the development of an effective strategy and road map to reach our national goals and aspirations.
Similarly, last year in the month of April Saudi Arabia unveiled its future plan called “Vision 2030” to transform its economy and diversify the country’s sources of income away from its current dependence on oil. Vision 2030 was a plan to reform the entire economic structure of Saudi Arabia by decreasing public spending and with a greater emphasis and participation from the private sector. It aims at raising the private sector share in the economy to 60 percent from 40 percent, reducing unemployment to 7.6 percent from 11 percent (2.2 million private sector jobs by 2025 to reach full employment) and growing non-oil income to 1 trillion riyals ($267 billion) from 163 billion riyals ($44 billion).
This vision also envisages the desire for linkages with the international markets and offers win-win situation for both partners, especially for the countries like Pakistan, which has a history of its strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia. In order to capitalize on this opportunity and matching it with Pakistan Vision 2025 there is a need of adopting trade and economic diplomacy as an integral part of our strategy to improve our bilateral trade and investment.
In line with the above strategy, the Pakistan diplomatic missions in KSA are following a business plan that highlights ways and means to improve bilateral trade and investment, seek opportunities for joint ventures in manufacturing and services sector and strive for human resource development, to not only contribute to the host country economy but also to have positive dividends for Pakistan. It also focuses on activities that not only present the case for trade and investment potential of Pakistan and its friendly industrial and investment regime, but also enhances the understanding about CPEC and its allied economic opportunities. It also highlights the incentives offered to the foreign investors in the areas of energy, agriculture, manufacturing, mining and infrastructure development.
Being a development partner of Saudi Arabia we are working to ensure an easy access of information for our buyers about our products potential (especially traditional products like food, textiles and leather, sports goods, surgical instruments and non-traditional products like pharmaceutical, furniture, construction materials and new emerging products in the services sector), credible partners are coordinated for exports and quality products at affordable price reach the destination. This would not only give value for money to the buyer but would also help in developing long term relationships between the stakeholders.
In order to contribute to the goal of industrialization under Vision 2030 we are also developing a business model whereby the Saudi manufacturing sector would be developed by having Saudi capital investment supplemented by the technology and skilled manpower from Pakistani counterparts as JV partners for these sectors, to not only do manufacturing for the domestic market but also exports to the adjacent markets in regional proximity of KSA. It would be a win-win situation for both — industrialization in KSA and Pakistan would provide multiple economic benefits in the form of profits earnings, export of skilled human resource and subsequent increase in remittances.
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have time-tested ties for last many decades in the area of defense. There is an unparalleled amount of mutual trust and confidence in each other’s forces. There is a great scope of cooperation between two brotherly Muslim countries by leveraging each other’s strength in defense production. We are working on this area to support Saudi Vision 2030 regarding transfer of technology and local assembling of the state of the art defense related products which Pakistan defense industry has mastered in last seven decades.
The Saudization concept under Vision 2030 appears to be a structural adjustment in the services sector of KSA, resulting in short-term decline of remittances for countries like Pakistan where remittances from the KSA hold the lion’s share, but in the long term it would only change the dynamics of Human Resource Pyramid — offering Pakistan an opportunity to upscale its manpower export to more skilled and managerial levels, inevitably boosting its foreign remittances. We are working with the government of Pakistan to develop specialized Vocational Training Institutes that would impart technical skills to our manpower, in accordance with the modified employment pyramid after Vision 2030 so that by the time the structural adjustments are completed in the Kingdom, Pakistani human resources ready to be placed at appropriate job levels and maintain, if could not increase, the historic levels of remittances.
Efforts are also under way to broaden the areas of mutual cooperation under the umbrella of Joint Ministerial Commission in the fields of Educational and Scientific Research, Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Tax Evasion, Services Trade Development, Manpower training by National Training Bureau of Pakistan, Bilateral Investment Protection Treaty, Cooperation on Tourism & Cultural promotion. Joint Business Council having members from both countries is also actively pursuing the economic interests for the mutual benefit of both economies.
The journey of socio-economic development with mutual cooperation between the two brotherly countries is ongoing under their respective visions — Saudi Vision 2030 and Pakistan Vision 2025 — and there is no doubt that both would prove to turn out to be the partners in prosperity of each other.