The United States hosts the Economic and Finance Working Group of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue
Today, 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 to discuss a range of strategic and economic issues. Minister Dar and Under Secretary Novelli convened the Economic and Finance Working Group of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue to discuss Pakistan's economic reform efforts, look at ways to increase bilateral trade and investment, and identify specific steps where innovation and technology could improve cooperation and Pakistan’s competitiveness in the global economy.
The two delegations discussed Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to bolster macroeconomic stability and growth. Over the past year, Pakistan has reduced energy subsidies and taken steps to control its fiscal deficit. Major structural reforms, including in the energy sector, remain necessary to help create strong growth and generate jobs. Pakistan highlighted its intention to continue working closely with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to maintain progress on the reform agenda. The two countries agreed to continue their cooperation in these areas.
Minister Dar discussed Pakistan’s energy reforms, which would encourage increased U.S. investment in renewable energy. Specifically, Under Secretary Novelli highlighted U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) support for the expansion of clean and renewable energy in Pakistan, and recent progress on several wind farms that will be financed by OPIC. Both sides agreed to convene the next Energy Working Group in Pakistan in early 2015 in order to align our policy, assistance, and private sector engagement to support Pakistan’s energy reform efforts and power generation capacity. The United States noted Pakistan’s progress toward its first liquefied natural gas imports, groundbreaking on Dasu Dam, and continued distribution company reforms.
Yesterday, in an event organized by USAID and the US-Pakistan Business Council, Minister Dar and Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif highlighted potential business opportunities with the Diamer Basha hydroelectric dam to an audience of U.S. companies and investors. The meeting complements other U.S.-Pakistan energy cooperation efforts that will have added 1400 megawatts to Pakistan's grid by the end of this year, benefiting nearly 16 million Pakistanis.
Both sides noted progress on implementing Prime Minster Sharif and President Obama’s pledge to expand bilateral trade and investment over the next five years. Pakistan will host the next U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference in Islamabad in early 2015, and both countries will look at ways to increase opportunities for women entrepreneurs. Pakistan is taking steps to improve its business climate and attract foreign investment. Both sides recognized recent cooperation which allowed Pakistani mangos to enter the U.S. market, as well as progress on Pakistan accepting live cattle imports. An information and communications technology trade delegation of Pakistani businesses, led by U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson and Pakistan’s Board of Investment Chairman Miftah Ismail, will travel to California next week.
In addition, both sides agreed to convene an Education, Science, and Technology Working Group as the sixth working group under the Strategic Dialogue. Pakistan and the United States will continue academic exchanges that have supported more than 5,000 Pakistani participants. Under Secretary Novelli noted that representatives from 17 U.S.-Pakistani university partnerships will hold a conference in Denton, Texas next month. Under the U.S.-Pakistan Science and Technology Agreement, Pakistan and the United States have together funded over 80 joint research projects on critical topics like food security, public health, and water.
The U.S. delegation included senior representatives from the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Treasury, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.