The Future of Pakistan-U.S. Relations

On October 19, 2020, the Meridian Corporate Council, in partnership with Gilead Sciences, hosted H.E. Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Pakistani Minister of Finance and Advisor to the Prime Minister, for a conversation on the future of Pakistan-U.S. economic relations.  

Dr. Shaikh boasts a long career in advising governments, but noted that he's honored to be working for the Prime Minister of Pakistan in this capacity. His remarks focused on the ways that Pakistan’s financial institutions had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and how their goals had shifted due to it. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global economy has contracted by 4.5 percent, affecting the Pakistani economy’s potential growth. Prior to the contraction, the government was reporting growing taxes, a budget surplus, and the government’s ability to pay on its debts. The government plan shifted to protect Small-and-Medium Enterprises, ordinary people, and the economy. Dr. Shaikh mentioned that while the economy has seen an uptick, the growth forecast is only about 2 percent, lower than previously expected. In addition, the government is providing a cash transfer program directly to citizens to help minimize the financial burden on them. Despite this situation, Dr. Shaikh spoke with optimism in his analysis of where Pakistan is headed.  

Dr. Shaikh asserted two intertwined points: the importance of public-private partnerships and the Belt and Road initiative. Belt and Road is a program designed by China to invest money and resources into other countries including Pakistan. Minister Shaikh spoke about the benefits of Belt and Road such as helping to provide a better road network for Pakistanis, but also reinforced that Pakistan would benefit from the participation of other countries as well. Along with looking for investment for other countries, Minister Shaikh spoke about the importance of partnership and investment by the U.S. private sector.  

Project summary

The Future of Pakistan-U.S. Relations | October 2020
Number of Attendees: 25
Regions: South and Central Asia
Countries: Pakistan
Impact Areas: Business and Trade
Program Areas: Convening
Partners: Private Sector