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Country Forecast Pakistan March 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Pakistan March 2018 Updater

  • March 2018
  • ID: 5365377

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  • The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), or PML (N), to secure re-election in the next legislative polls, scheduled for July 2018. The PML (N)'s prospects for re-election will be boosted by the country's strong economic growth during its time in office.
  • Although the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif from his post as president of the PML (N) in February, he will remain influential in party politics. There is a risk that tensions may brew within the party owing to a contest for influence between Nawaz Sharif and the new party chief, Shehbaz Sharif.
  • The military will continue to play a dominant role in the country's politics, particularly on issues relating to domestic security, foreign policy and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). We do not expect the military to replace the government in the forecast period, as its key interests will not be threatened.
  • The precarious security situation will remain a key source of instability in 2018-22. It will undermine growth by posing operational and strategic challenges to infrastructure projects, while tarnishing Pakistan's investor appeal.
  • Relations between India and Pakistan will remain fractious in 2018-22 owing to the countries' long territorial conflict over Kashmir. Meanwhile, China will remain Pakistan's leading economic partner and will strengthen transport links and energy infrastructure.
  • We forecast that the fiscal deficit will average the equivalent of 5.3% of GDP in fiscal years 2017/18-2021/22 (July-June). The need to provide adequate funding for transport and energy projects under the umbrella of the CPEC, as well as high expenditure on security, will add significantly to spending pressure.
  • In 2017/18-2021/22 real GDP will grow at an average annual rate of 5.5%. Infrastructure investment and consumption will drive this expansion, but the poor business environment and structural impediments will weigh on growth.
  • A consistently wide inflation differential with the US and an expanding trade deficit mean that the Pakistan rupee will depreciate against the US dollar, from PRs111.1:US$1 on average in 2018 to PRs123.9:US$1 in 2022.
  • We expect the merchandise trade deficit to remain wide, at an annual average of US$26.5bn, over 2018-22, as a result of continued demand for imported investment goods and recovering global oil prices. We expect the current-account deficit to average the equivalent of 3% of GDP in 2018-22.


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