The government of Pakistan is focusing on creating a business-friendly environment that will be a boost to economy and attract foreign direct investment in the country, Pakistan Ambassador to the UAE said in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

Speaking at a conference on Pakistan-Economy, Capital Market, Private Equity and CPEC (China Pakistan Economy Corridor), organised by J. Awan and Partners, Moazzam Ahmad Khan said the reforms undertaken by the government have brought in macro-economic stability resulting in lower budget deficit, and increased foreign exchange reserves.

“Over the past 3 years, the government has been able to bring down fiscal deficit from 8.6 per cent to 4.2 per cent; increase tax-to-GDP ratio from 9.8 per cent to 12.4 per cent and contain inflation to well below 3 per cent.”

“Our foreign exchange reserves stand at a comfortable level of $23 billion (Dh84.48 billion). This year Pakistan is set to cross the 5 per cent GDP growth threshold, and is projected to grow over 8 per cent in the next decade.”

He said equities and stock markets have been performing well with Pakistan benchmark PSE100 index, crossing 49,000 in January 2017 and is set to break the barrier of 50,000 shortly.

“At a market capitalisation of $89 billion, Pakistan Stock Exchange is among the best performing markets of Asia and indeed the world. Perhaps for this reason Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) has decided to upgrade the Karachi Stock Exchange to Emerging Market Index.”

On China Pakistan Economic Corridor, he said infrastructure expansion of over $55 billion is being implemented under the programme, including investments of more than $35 billion in the energy sector.

“Road and Rail infrastructure, Industrial Parks and Economic Zones along the length and breadth of Pakistan will culminate in state of the art Deep Sea Port at Gwadar. In time, Gwadar is expected to service not only Pakistan and the Asian continent, but, by slashing distances and cutting costs, also the markets of the Middle East and North Africa region,” he said.

Located at the intersection of four engines of growth in Asia, South Asia, China, the Middle East and Central Asia, he said Pakistan is uniquely positioned to become a hub to connect growing regional markets of over 3 billion people, and the CPEC is helping realise that dream.

As part of the One Belt, One Road project, China is creating a vast network of highways and railways connecting the Pakistan port city of Gwadar with China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang.

The Pakistan ambassador also underlined the relationship with the UAE, saying the people of Pakistan have a special affinity for the UAE, its people and its leadership. The bilateral trade between the two countries is about $7b in 2015, according to Pakistan embassy.

Speakers also highlighted the security situation in the country and said the government is trying to implement an aggressive security improvement strategy.