Economy - overview: Decades of internal political disputes and low levels of foreign investment have led to slow growth and underdevelopment in Pakistan. Pakistan has a large English-speaking population. Nevertheless, a challenging security environment, electricity shortages, and a burdensome investment climate have deterred investors. Agriculture accounts for one-fifth of output and two-fifths of employment. Textiles and apparel account for most of Pakistan's export earnings; Pakistan's failure to diversify its exports has left the country vulnerable to shifts in world demand. Pakistan’s GDP growth has gradually increased since 2012. Official unemployment was 6% in 2017, but this fails to capture the true picture, because much of the economy is informal and underemployment remains high. Human development continues to lag behind most of the region.
In 2013, Pakistan embarked on a $6.3 billion IMF Extended Fund Facility, which focused on reducing energy shortages, stabilizing public finances, increasing revenue collection, and improving its balance of payments position. The program concluded in September 2016. Although Pakistan missed several structural reform criteria, it restored macroeconomic stability, improved its credit rating, and boosted growth. The Pakistani rupee, after heavy depreciation in 2013, remained relatively stable against the US dollar in 2015-17. Low global oil prices in 2016 contributed to a narrowing current account deficit and lower inflation. Remittances from overseas workers continued to be a key revenue source, also mitigating the impact of the lack of foreign investment and a growing trade deficit on the country’s current account.
Pakistan must continue to address several longstanding issues, including expanding investment in education and healthcare, adapting to the effects of climate change and natural disasters, improving the country’s business environment, reducing dependence on foreign donors, and widening the country’s tax base. Given demographic challenges, Pakistan’s leadership will be pressed to implement economic reforms, promote further development of the energy sector, and attract foreign investment to support sufficient economic growth necessary to employ its growing and rapidly urbanizing population, much of which is under the age of 25.
In an effort to boost development, Pakistan and China are implementing the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” a $46 billion investment program targeted towards the energy sector and other infrastructure projects that Islamabad and Beijing had agreed on in early 2013.
Definition: This entry briefly describes the type of economy, including the degree of market orientation, the level of economic development, the most important natural resources, and the unique areas of specialization. It also characterizes major economic events and policy changes in the most recent 12 months and may include a statement about one or two key future macroeconomic trends.
Source: CIA World Factbook - This page was last updated on January 20, 2018