KARACHI: Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs witnessed the loan signing of Trade & Competitiveness Program (Subprogram – 1) amounting to $500 million between the Government of Pakistan and the Asian Development Bank. The loan agreement was signed by Mr. Noor Ahmed, Secretary, Economic Affairs Division and Ms. Xiaohong Yang, Country Director, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Press Information Department reported. Trade & Competitiveness Program will help Pakistan to promote macroeconomic stability; improve export performance; and boost economic growth by facilitating improved trade competitiveness. Under this programme, the government has introduced important tariff and tax related policy reforms to support Pakistan’s export sector and improve its competitiveness internationally and strengthen key institutions involved in facilitating trade, including accreditation bodies Export-Import Bank of Pakistan (EXIMBP) and the National Single Window (NSW). Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs acknowledged ADB’s support for Pakistan. He highlighted that Pakistan’s exports are concentrated in less sophisticated and lower value-added products and lack diversification and innovations. Minister expressed that ADB’s policy-based lending will not only strengthen the foreign exchange reserves but will also provide fiscal space to the government and boost economic activities in the country. He emphasized that ADB should further scale up its assistance to Pakistan both for programme lending and project financing. Ms. Xiaohong Yang, Country Director stated ADB is providing its support for policy reforms and project financing in the key priority areas such as energy, road, social sector, water & irrigation and urban services. She also reiterated ADB’s strong commitment to further strengthening and expanding its partnership with Pakistan.