Pakistan Economy - 2021


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Economic overview

Decades of internal political disputes and low levels of foreign investment have led to underdevelopment in Pakistan. Pakistan has a large English-speaking population, with English-language skills less prevalent outside urban centers. Despite some progress in recent years in both security and energy, a challenging security environment, electricity shortages, and a burdensome investment climate have traditionally deterred investors. Agriculture accounts for one-fifth of output and two-fifths of employment. Textiles and apparel account for more than half of Pakistan's export earnings; Pakistan's failure to diversify its exports has left the country vulnerable to shifts in world demand. Pakistan’s GDP growth has gradually increased since 2012, and was 5.3% in 2017. Official unemployment was 6% in 2017, but this fails to capture the true picture, because much of the economy is informal and underemployment remains high. Human development continues to lag behind most of the region.

In 2013, Pakistan embarked on a $6.3 billion IMF Extended Fund Facility, which focused on reducing energy shortages, stabilizing public finances, increasing revenue collection, and improving its balance of payments position. The program concluded in September 2016. Although Pakistan missed several structural reform criteria, it restored macroeconomic stability, improved its credit rating, and boosted growth. The Pakistani rupee has remained relatively stable against the US dollar since 2015, though it declined about 10% between November 2017 and March 2018. Balance of payments concerns have reemerged, however, as a result of a significant increase in imports and weak export and remittance growth.

Pakistan must continue to address several longstanding issues, including expanding investment in education, healthcare, and sanitation; adapting to the effects of climate change and natural disasters; improving the country’s business environment; and widening the country’s tax base. Given demographic challenges, Pakistan’s leadership will be pressed to implement economic reforms, promote further development of the energy sector, and attract foreign investment to support sufficient economic growth necessary to employ its growing and rapidly urbanizing population, much of which is under the age of 25.

In an effort to boost development, Pakistan and China are implementing the "China-Pakistan Economic Corridor" (CPEC) with $60 billion in investments targeted towards energy and other infrastructure projects. Pakistan believes CPEC investments will enable growth rates of over 6% of GDP by laying the groundwork for increased exports. CPEC-related obligations, however, have raised IMF concern about Pakistan’s capital outflows and external financing needs over the medium term.

Real GDP growth rate

5.4% (2017 est.)

4.6% (2016 est.)

4.1% (2015 est.)

note: data are for fiscal years

country comparison to the world: 36

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

9.3% (2019 est.)

5.2% (2018 est.)

4.2% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 208

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B- (2018)

Moody's rating: B3 (2015)

Standard & Poors rating: B- (2019)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1,015,796,000,000 (2019 est.)

$1,005,850,000,000 (2018 est.)

$950.381 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
data are for fiscal years

country comparison to the world: 25

GDP (official exchange rate)

$253.183 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$4,690 (2019 est.)

$4,740 (2018 est.)

$4,571 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 178

Gross national saving

12.3% of GDP (2019 est.)

12.2% of GDP (2018 est.)

13% of GDP (2017 est.)

note: data are for fiscal years

country comparison to the world: 160

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 24.4% (2016 est.)

industry: 19.1% (2016 est.)

services: 56.5% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 82% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 11.3% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 14.5% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 1.6% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 8.2% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -17.6% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 61 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 89.3 (2020)

Trading score: 68.8 (2020)

Enforcement score: 43.5 (2020)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, buffalo milk, wheat, milk, rice, maize, potatoes, cotton, fruit, mangoes/guavas


textiles and apparel, food processing, pharmaceuticals, surgical instruments, construction materials, paper products, fertilizer, shrimp

Industrial production growth rate

5.4% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 53

Labor force

61.71 million (2017 est.)

note: extensive export of labor, mostly to the Middle East, and use of child labor

country comparison to the world: 9

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 42.3%

industry: 22.6%

services: 35.1% (FY2015 est.)

Unemployment rate

6% (2017 est.)

6% (2016 est.)

note: Pakistan has substantial underemployment

country comparison to the world: 97

Population below poverty line

24.3% (2015 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

33.5 (2015 est.)

30.9 (FY2011)

country comparison to the world: 127

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 4%

highest 10%: 26.1% (FY2013)


revenues: 46.81 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 64.49 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are for fiscal years

Taxes and other revenues

15.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 190

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-5.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 178

Public debt

67% of GDP (2017 est.)

67.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 56

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Current account balance

-$7.143 billion (2019 est.)

-$19.482 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 188


$31.517 billion (2019 est.)

$27.604 billion (2018 est.)

$25.613 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70

Exports - partners

United States 14%, China 8%, Germany 7%, United Kingdom 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

textiles, clothing and apparel, rice, leather goods, surgical instruments (2019)


$42.27 billion (2019 est.)

$51.602 billion (2018 est.)

$47.165 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 66

Imports - partners

China 28%, United Arab Emirates 11%, United States 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, crude petroleum, natural gas, palm oil, scrap iron (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$18.46 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$22.05 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 62

Debt - external

$107.527 billion (2019 est.)

$95.671 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 53

Exchange rates

Pakistani rupees (PKR) per US dollar -

160.425 (2020 est.)

155.04 (2019 est.)

138.8 (2018 est.)

102.769 (2014 est.)

101.1 (2013 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Pakistan on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Pakistan 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Pakistan 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.