Finding unique ways of increasing economic growth on a national scale is no mean feat, which is why many countries with close ties decide to work alongside each other.
To strengthen international relationships and boost economic growth, both countries must come together to share their resources and knowledge. In 2019, the United Kingdom and Pakistan did just that. Together, they launched the UK-Pakistan Tech Initiative to establish greater links and overall economic growth across the board.
The initiative hopes to achieve this overarching goal in a number of ways, from reducing the chance of a dispute regarding a commercial contract arising, through to the utilisation of improved communication links.
In this post, we’ll explore the details surrounding the UK-Pakistan Tech Initiative and explain how it benefits both countries.
What is the UK-Pakistan Tech Initiative?
Launched in 2019, the UK-Pakistan Tech Initiative is a joint project that aims to promote greater links and economic growth between both country’s tech sectors.
The organisers of the initiative, Tech London Advocates Pakistan (TLA), are a collection of industry experts who have brought together businesses and investors to establish collaboration and innovation, with both countries sharing their technical knowledge and practices.
The launch of the initiative also came hand-in-hand with the noted growth of Pakistan’s IT sector, with the New York Times previously labelling it as the ‘next software hub’.
When launching the initiative, UK Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan Elin Burns said: “Technology businesses are at the heart of the UK economy and are playing an important role in driving growth across the country, from financial services and high-value manufacturing to retail and agriculture.
“London is ranked the second most connected place globally for tech. With the UK’s expertise and the untapped potential of Pakistan’s burgeoning sector, tech is a potentially high growth area for further collaboration, creating jobs and prosperity for both our countries.”
Why Have the UK and Pakistan Chosen to Work Together on the Initiative?
The UK and Pakistan have traditionally held close ties with one another, stemming from the fact that the latter was a part of the British Empire, up until 1947 when it gained its independence.
Pakistan later re-joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1989, and since then, economic relations between the two countries has been largely positive. For example, since 1988, there has been a tax treaty in place which is designed to prevent individuals or businesses from being taxed for the same income twice, as well as to prevent tax avoidance.
In 2012, the Prime Ministers of both countries launched a Trade Investment Roadmap to increase trade between both countries, with bilateral visits being arranged to help support trade relations.
This close relationship isn’t the only explanation behind the decision to launch the initiative. At the time of the launch in 2019, Pakistan was ranked as the third most financially attractive location in the world for offshore services. Various international companies, such as Bentley, Ciklum, IBM and Syman all established global consulting service centres and research facilities in Pakistan.
Why the UK-Pakistan Tech Initiative Will Reduce Commercial Disputes
One of the most prominent threats to the success of any commercial relationship is disruptive disputes. Commercial disputes can range from disagreements over the specific terms of a contract, right through to discrepancies related to Intellectual Property.
One of the biggest benefits of the UK-Pakistan Tech Initiative is the fact that it will help both countries to work together more harmoniously, thus reducing the potential for commercial disputes to destabilise the relationship.
As discussed by Pervez Abbasi, Project Director at the National Incubatra Centre, the initiative will create a ‘tech corridor’ between the two countries, allowing for greater connectivity and collaboration.
Providing Support for Pakistan’s Other IT Endeavours
Pakistan has plenty of ambitious targets with regards to the growth of its IT industry, which the initiative should be able to support moving forwards.
In 2021, it was reported that Pakistan is looking to double its IT industry over the next two years by setting up dedicated tech zones across the country. This comes after Pakistan previously missed out on the so-called ‘tech booms’ in other Asian counties such as India and the Philippines.
It is hoped that these new tech zones can help to create employment for the masses of young people living in Pakistan, as nearly two-thirds of the population is under the age of 30.
Around half a dozen global companies and 50 domestic firms have so far expressed an interest in setting up these proposed zones. It’s hoped that as much as $1.5 billion of private investment will pour into the projects over the next two years.
Despite these lofty ambitions, industry leaders in Pakistan recognise that this is a long-term project – which is where the UK-Pakistan Tech Initiative should be of particular use.
Habibullah Khan, the founder of digital marketing agency Penumbra, laid this fact out, stating: “Pakistan can’t have a full-blown tech explosion. We don’t have the money,”
So, for these tech zones to be established and for both Pakistan and the UK to continue to build economic growth between themselves, it’s vital that the goals of the initiative are fully realised and continue to develop over time.
What Next for the UK-Pakistan Tech Initiative?
In this post, we’ve discussed the details related to the UK-Pakistan Tech Initiative and how its goals will help to improve economic growth. Of course, 2020 provided a serious setback for industries right across the board, but with the worst of the pandemic now behind us, it’s hoped that the initiative can continue to pick up momentum.
What are your thoughts on the UK-Pakistan Tech Initiative? Do you think it will be successful in improving economic growth? Please your thoughts in the comments below!