Islamabad: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has urged Asian countries to establish regional harmony and sustainable development through increased trade and economic growth. He said Pakistan is taking steps towards most favoured nation (MFN) status for India, it was reported here.

"If we do not establish a regional harmony based on trade, investment and economic growth, we fear we will remain hostage to the past. We can break free of this past," Gilani said while addressing Boao Forum for Asia's annual conference in Boao, China.

Gilani mentioned the initiatives for deepening economic relations with other countries and pointed to the tariff liberalisation with China, a new Transit Trade Agreement with Afghanistan, steps towards MFN for India, and regional projects in gas pipelines and communication, reported the Associated Press of Pakistan.

India March 1 welcomed Pakistan's decision to move from the "positive list" to a short "negative list", a key step towards towards granting MFN status and normalising trade relations across the border. Gilani said the 21st century is the "Asian Century" and stressed that Asia's role in the global economic order had changed rapidly.

He said China's role in Asia, and Asia's economic, political and strategic importance was central. He said by 2050, Asia was expected to account for more than half of the global economy, restoring the world's largest continent to its former position of economic primacy.

"In short, we may well be witnessed the birth of a new world," he was quoted as saying. Prime Minister Gilani recalled the global recession, three years back and said the world has not fully recovered as more uncertainty lies ahead and the pace of growth has been slow and uneven. However, to achieve this, he said "we have to remain vigilant and greater international coordination will be required among all stakeholders and international financial institutions".

The prime minister also spoke of the massive floods that wiped out two percent growth of Pakistan's GDP and caused damage estimated at USD 10 billion.