A strong economy will enhance the country’s power and strengthen national security, said Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood.

Speaking at the second session of Islamabad Security Dialogue, Dawood stated that history had shown that economic backwardness led to social conflicts and political turmoil and thus weakened national security.

He stressed that the loss of economic security caused erosion of national sovereignty.

Shedding light on his vision, he mentioned that economic security consisted of inter-connected pillars which included industrial security, energy security, food security, connectivity, financial security and economic diplomacy.

He stated that a nation like Pakistan could not depend on import and trading but it needed to focus on manufacturing based on technology.

“To support the creation of an industrial base, the Ministry of Commerce is implementing the “Make-in-Pakistan” policy for rationalising tariff structure to pursue import substitution,” he added.

The ministry is using tariff as a tool to stimulate industrial and economic activity instead of the revenue-based approach used in the past.

“Import substitution leads to the creation of a critical mass and this leads to export and a large private sector,” the adviser said. “A particular point that is missing in our context is the concept of large corporate groups. One can see enhanced economic security created in South Korea and Malaysia.”

Dawood added that a strong industrial base had to be supported by energy, agricultural, food and financial security, which was vital for Pakistan’s economic security.

“Most of the countries build their economic security by trading with neighbours, which creates trade connectivity and economic diplomacy,” he said, adding that the recent economic engagement with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Central Asian Republics was a step in this direction.

He emphasised that Pakistan had been mostly suffering because of its strategic location and time had come to take advantage of the country’s location. “Our geo-strategic location has to be complemented with geo-economics,” he said.

He called on the forum to come up with an economic security index and a forecasting model by incorporating important parameters of economic security.

He said that it would help realign the relationship among various elements of economic security and lay the foundation for a strong economy with robust tech-driven industrial infrastructure.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2021.

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