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The economy of Pakistan is the 26th largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power, and the 47th largest in absolute dollar terms. Pakistan's economy mainly encompasses textiles, chemicals, food processing, agriculture and other industries. In 2005, it was the third fastest growing economy in Asia[4].

The economy has suffered in the past from decades of internal political disputes, a fast growing population, mixed levels of foreign investment, and a costly, ongoing confrontation with neighboring India. However, IMF-approved government policies, bolstered by foreign investment and renewed access to global markets, have generated solid macroeconomic recovery the last decade. Substantial macroeconomic reforms since 2000, most notably at privatizing the banking sector have helped the economy.

GDP growth, spurred by gains in the industrial and service sectors, remained in the 6-8% range in 2004-06. In 2005, the World Bank named Pakistan the top reformer in its region and in the top 10 reformers globally. [5]

Islamabad has steadily raised development spending in recent years, including a 52% real increase in the budget allocation for development in FY07, a necessary step toward reversing the broad underdevelopment of its social sector. The fiscal deficit - the result of chronically low tax collection and increased spending, including reconstruction costs from the devastating Kashmir earthquake in 2005 was manageable.

Inflation remains the biggest threat to the economy, jumping to more than 9% in 2005 before easing to 7.9% in 2006. In 2008, following the surge in global petrol prices inflation in Pakistan has reached as high as 25.0%. The central bank is pursuing tighter monetary policy while trying to preserve growth. Foreign exchange reserves are bolstered by steady worker remittances, but a growing current account deficit - driven by a widening trade gap as import growth outstrips export expansion - could draw down reserves and dampen GDP growth in the medium term.[6]

Since the beginning of 2008, Pakistan's economic outlook has taken a dramatic downturn. Security concerns stemming from the nation's role in the War on Terror have created great instability and led to a decline in FDI from a height of approximately $8 bn to $3.5bn for the current fiscal year. Concurrently, the insurgency has forced massive capital flight from Pakistan to the Gulf. Combined with high global commodity prices, the dual impact has shocked Pakistan's economy, with gaping trade deficits, high inflation and a crash in the value of the Rupee, which has fallen from 60-1 USD to over 80-1 USD in a few months. For the first time in years, it may have to seek external funding as Balance of Payments support. Consequently, S&P lowered Pakistanís foreign currency debt rating to CCC-plus from B, just several notches above a level that would indicate default. Pakistanís local currency debt rating was lowered to B-minus from BB-minus. Credit agency Moodyís Investors Service cut its outlook on Pakistanís debt to negative from stable due to political uncertainty, though it maintained the countryís rating at B2.The cost of protection against a default in Pakistanís sovereign debt trades at 1,800 basis points, according to its five year credit default swap, a level that indicates investors believe the country is already in or will soon be in default.

The middle term however may be less turbulent, depending on the political environment. The EIU estimates that inflation should drop back to single digits in 2010, and that growth should pick up to over 5% per annum by 2011. Although less then the previous 5 year average of 7%, it would represent a overcoming of the present crisis wherein growth is a mere 3.5-4%.

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