Pakistan - Overview
Practically all business correspondence is made in English, though Urdu is also sometimes used by local companies.
Muslims 97% (Sunni 77%, Shi'a 20%), Other (includes Christians and Hindus) 3%.
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In recent years, the government made significant macro-economic reforms, which include the privatization of state-subsidized services, the institution of an anti-money laundering law, an increase in the harshness of punishment against the piracy of intellectual property and quick settlements for the disputes between investors. In the context of the fight against terrorism, the country has received substantial financial aid from the United States, an important factor for growth and economic stability. However, when this payments reached their end in October 2008, Pakistan asked aid from the IMF in November, and adopted a stabilization plan which has obtained limited results. Despite a slight improvement, the country remains confronted with several difficulties: economic slowdown, budgetary deficit and insufficient growth of tax receipts. Some of the major threats to Pakistan's economy are: international high prices in oil barrels, inflation, raw materials prices, a deficit on the balance of payments and political insecurity and uncertainty.
The main indicators of the country are in the red. Approximately 30% of the population lives below the poverty line. The unemployment rate is estimated at around 7.5% and the level of under-employment is very high. Life expectancy is only 64 years and barely 55% of the population is literate. Extreme poverty and under-development are major problems in Pakistan, especially in rural areas.
The perspectives of growth for 2011 are expected to be low due to the strong floods that devastated the country in 2010. Thousands of agricultural workers lost their jobs and the cost of reconstruction is estimated at USD 15 billion.
The industrial sector contributes around 25% to the GDP. The major industries are textile production (the largest source of foreign exchange revenue), oil refining, metal processing, and the production of cement and fertilizers. Maritime transport is also a significant activity.
The tertiary sector contributes to around half of the GDP. Money transfers from Pakistanis working abroad create a considerable godsend financial income for the country.
Foreign trade overview
In the 2008/09 fiscal year, the trade volume decreased by 9%. After having more than doubled between 2001/02 and 2007/08, Pakistani exports declined by 6% in 2008/09, in relation to the same period in the previous year. Imports, which were multiplied by three between 2003 and 2008, declined by 10.5% in 2008/09, compared to 2007/08. The fall in imports led to a reduction of 17% on the trade deficit in 2008/09, compared to 2007/08. During the fiscal year 2009/2010, exports reached the amount of USD 15.9 billion and its main trade partner was the United States.
Pakistan's three main customers are the United States, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan. The main export commodities are cotton, textiles, clothing and cereals. Its three main import partners are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and China. Pakistan mainly imports fuels, oil, vehicles, iron and steel.
According to the UNCTAD report on world investments, the potential attractiveness of Pakistan for investments is lower than India, its neighbor, but equal to Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh. However, performance in terms of actual reception of FDI is poor and this situation will not improve because the country has a very negative image in the international plan since it is considered a rear base of Islamic terrorism.