Economic and Political Overview

flag Pakistan Pakistan: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response


Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Pakistan has achieved steady growth since 2013 in the aftermath of a credit facility agreement with the IMF. Economic growth slowed in recent years due to measures taken by the authorities to address macroeconomic imbalances and turned negative in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the IMF's estimates, growth picked up in 2022 reaching 6% of GDP despite disruptions caused by floods, a tight monetary stance, high inflation, and a less conducive global environment; while a strong inflow of remittances (around 10% of GDP, mainly from Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE) supported private consumption. The IMF expects the economy to decelerate slightly in 2023 (+2%) before picking up again the following year (+4.2%).

Concerning public finances, the full-year current account deficit is forecast at USD 4.7 billion (1.5% of GDP) in FY23 after USD 17 billion (4.6% of GDP) recorded in FY22 (Fitch Ratings) in light of restrictions on imports and foreign exchange availability, as well as fiscal tightening, higher interest rates and measures to limit energy consumption. The public debt-to-GDP ratio also increased in 2022, reaching 77.8% (from 74.9% one year earlier) but is expected to follow a downward trend over the forecast horizon (71.1% in 2023 and 76% in 2024, according to the IMF). In 2023, Fitch Ratings noted that a default of some sort appears probable following indications that the authorities are considering debt restructuring, while further deterioration in external liquidity and funding conditions could also worsen the situation. Inflation spiked to an estimated 12.1% in 2022 and is projected to further increase to 19.9% in 2023 amid continued rupee depreciation, high prices of petroleum products, and the persistent increase in the rates of agriculture commodities (Pakistan’s imports of food surged by 65% following the floods). The World Bank Report estimated financial needs for post-flood rehabilitation and reconstruction to amount to at least USD 16.3 billion.

Pakistan's unemployment rate stood at around 6.2% in 2022 and is expected to remain stable in the near future. Nevertheless, the number of people no longer actively seeking work is increasing. The level of underemployment remains very high and much of the economy is informal. While the poverty rate has fallen by 40% over the last two decades, it is still high: using the lower-middle-income poverty rate of USD 3.2 per day, in fact, the World Bank calculated that Pakistan's poverty ratio stands at around 40%. The country has a low GDP per capita (PPP), estimated at USD 6,662 in 2022 by the IMF.

Main Indicators 202020212022 (E)2023 (E)2024 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 300.41348.23376.490.000.00
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -
GDP per Capita (USD) 1,3771,5641,65800
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 79.673.675.873.668.9
Inflation Rate (%) 10.78.912.127.121.9
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)
Current Account (billions USD) -4.45-2.82-17.410.000.00
Current Account (in % of GDP) -1.5-0.8-4.6-2.3-2.4

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

The agricultural sector is very important for the Pakistani economy: it contributes 22.7% of the GDP and employs 37% of the active population. Wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables and tobacco are among the major crops. Cattle livestock farming remains important as the country is among the top 10 beef and veal producers in the world. Pakistan is the fifth-largest cotton producer in the world and has abundant natural resources, mainly copper, oil and gas. During 2021-22, the agriculture sector recorded a growth of 4.4%. The crops sector outperformed and posted a growth of 6.58%, with cotton ginning growing by almost 9.2%. In the same fiscal year, livestock farming grew an estimated 3.2%: overall, the sector had a share of 61.89% in agriculture and 14.04% in GDP (data Ministry of Finance).
The industrial sector contributes 18.8% of the GDP and employs 25% of the population. The major industries are textile production (the largest source of foreign exchange revenue), oil refining, metal processing, and the production of cement and fertilisers. Maritime transport is also a significant activity; however, the market is dominated by foreign shipping companies and the state-owned Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC). The manufacturing sector accounts for 12.4% of GDP, with large-scale manufacturing accounting for three-quarters of the total. During the first nine months of the fiscal year 2021-22, large-scale manufacturing grew an estimated 10.4%. Overall, the industrial sector grew by 7.2% in FY 2022 (data Ministry of Finance).
The tertiary sector comprises 52.1% of the GDP and employs more than one-third of the workforce (38%). The IT sector is growing rapidly, contributing around 1% of GDP and accounting for 3.5% of exports. Remittances from Pakistanis working abroad represent a considerable financial income for the country. During FY 2022, the services sector posted a growth of 6.2%, on account of 10% growth in wholesale and retail trade, 5.4% in transport and storage, and 4.1% in accommodation and food service (Ministry of Finance).

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 36.9 25.0 38.1
Value Added (in % of GDP) 22.7 18.8 52.1
Value Added (Annual % Change) 3.5 7.8 6.0

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


Find more information about your business sector on our service Market Reports.

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Pakistani Rupee (PKR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 AED 28.5328.7133.1736.8943.09

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


Find out all the exchange rates daily on our service Currency Converter.

Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation


Business environment ranking


The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

World Rank:

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit - Business Environment Rankings 2020-2024


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


Return to top

Foreign Trade in Figures

Despite economic and political difficulties, Pakistan has taken steps to liberalise its trade and investment framework as part of commitments made with the WTO, IMF and the World Bank. Nevertheless, the share of foreign trade in Pakistan's GDP continues to be low, at 27% (World Bank, latest data available). Textile products account by far for the largest share of exports (around 60%, mostly comprising linen, clothing and cotton, making the country the 9th textile exporter in the world), followed by rice (4.877 million tons, valued at USD 2.51 billion in FY2022). In regards to imports, the largest items are petroleum products, followed by palm oil, telephones and coal (Comtrade).

The United States is the top destination for Pakistani exports (21.1%, mainly textile), followed by China (10.5%), the United Kingdom (7.3%), and Germany (5.4%). China is by far the largest supplier of goods and services in Pakistan (28.3%), ahead of the United Arab Emirates (10.1%), Indonesia (5.8%), the United States (5.3%), and Saudi Arabia (5.2%). The free trade agreement (FTA) with China impacted Pakistani manufacturing exports, which have declined in recent years, and local businesses worry the completion of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor would further increase the share of Chinese products in the domestic market. Click here for an overview of Pakistan’s free trade agreements.
Pakistan's trade structure has been structurally in deficit: in 2021, imports of goods reached the record level of USD 72.5 billion (+58.3% year-on-year), while exports grew at a slower pace (+28.9%), totalling USD 28.3 billion. Concerning the trade of services, imports reached USD 9.8 billion, whereas exports amounted to USD 6.5 billion. For the same year, the World Bank estimated the country’s trade deficit at 8.9% of GDP (from 8.1% one year earlier). The latest figures from the Bureau of Statistics show that in the fiscal year 2022 (July ’21-June ’22), exports of goods reached USD 31.7 billion (+25.5% y-o-y), against USD 80 billion in imports (+42% y-o-y).

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 57,74660,07850,33245,80472,515
Exports of Goods (million USD) 21,72523,42523,32921,96128,319
Imports of Services (million USD) 9,85811,1309,7247,3069,806
Exports of Services (million USD) 3,9144,6954,6564,3786,498
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 2.510.
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 17.319.019.517.418.0
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)
Trade Balance (million USD) -29,594-31,911-22,881-22,172-37,518
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -35,007-37,648-27,306-24,765-40,826
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 25.527.628.926.727.1

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
United States 21.1%
China 10.5%
United Kingdom 7.3%
Germany 5.4%
Netherlands 4.9%
See More Countries 50.8%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 28.3%
United Arab Emirates 10.1%
Indonesia 5.8%
United States 5.3%
Saudi Arabia 5.2%
See More Countries 45.4%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


Main Products

28.8 bn USD of products exported in 2021
Bedlinen, table linen, toilet linen and kitchen...Bedlinen, table linen, toilet linen and kitchen linen of all types of textile materials (excl. floorcloths, polishing cloths, dishcloths and dusters) 14.8%
Men's or boys' suits, ensembles, jackets, blazers,...Men's or boys' suits, ensembles, jackets, blazers, trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts (excl. knitted or crocheted, wind-jackets and similar articles, separate waistcoats, tracksuits, ski suits and swimwear) 9.5%
RiceRice 7.5%
Cotton yarn other than sewing thread, containing >...Cotton yarn other than sewing thread, containing >= 85% cotton by weight (excl. that put up for retail sale) 4.0%
Woven fabrics of cotton, containing >= 85% cotton...Woven fabrics of cotton, containing >= 85% cotton by weight and weighing > 200 g/m² 3.0%
See More Products 61.1%
72.9 bn USD of products imported in 2021
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 11.0%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 6.3%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 5.8%
Palm oil and its fractions, whether or not refined...Palm oil and its fractions, whether or not refined (excl. chemically modified) 4.7%
Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic...Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and immunological products, whether or not modified or obtained by means of biotechnological processes; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excl. yeasts) and similar products 4.5%
See More Products 67.9%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


To go further, check out our service Import/Export Flows.


Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

Return to top

Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Arif ALVI (since 9 September 2018)
Prime Minister: Shehbaz SHARIF (since 11 April 2022)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: 2023
Senate: March 2024
National Assembly: 25 July 2023
Main Political Parties
Pakistan has a multi-party system in which no party has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties work with each other to form coalition governments to direct the National Assembly. Political alliances in Pakistan shift very frequently. Some of the major political parties in the country are:

- Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP): a mainstream political party derived out of the Pakistan People's Party
- Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI): centre-left
- Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM): self-proclaimed liberal
- Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA): far-right
- Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam (JUI-F): far right
- Jamaat-e Islami Pakistan(JI): far right
- Awami National Party (ANP): Democratic socialism
- Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP)
- Awami Workers Party (AWP): Left Wing
- Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP): far right

Type of State
Pakistan is a multiparty federal republic.
Executive Power
The President is the chief of state and is elected by an Electoral College composed of the members of the Senate, the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies, for a five-year term. The President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The President is supposed to have a largely ceremonial role; however, Presidents with an army background have played an influential role in mainstream politics throughout Pakistan's history. The Prime Minister is elected by the lower house of the parliament through a vote for a five-year term. The Prime Minister is the head of the government and enjoys the executive powers which include implementation of the law and running the day-to-day affairs of the country. The council of ministers (cabinet) is appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Legislative Power
The legislature in Pakistan is bicameral. The parliament consists of The Senate (the upper house) having 100 seats, with its members indirectly elected by provincial assemblies to serve six-year terms; and the National Assembly (the lower house) having 342 seats, with its members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms (of which 272 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 70 members - 60 women and 10 non-Muslims - directly elected by proportional representation vote). The President can be impeached and removed from his office by a two-thirds majority vote of the National Assembly, but the Constitution of the country also grants the President the unique power to dissolve the National Assembly and also to dismiss the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister cannot dissolve the parliament.

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Partly Free
Political Freedom:
Civil Liberties:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


Return to top

COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of Pakistan, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.


Any Comment About This Content? Report It to Us.


© eexpand, All Rights Reserved.
Latest Update: November 2023