Pak­istan of­fers en­cour­ag­ing in­vest­ment prospects

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Un­der Pak­istan’s lib­eral in­vest­ment pol­icy, all eco­nomic sec­tors are open to for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment, 100 per­cent for­eign eq­uity is al­lowed, with for­eign in­vest­ment fully pro­tected in the coun­try. Es­sen­tially, Pak­istan is en­ter­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of mean­ing­ful bi­lat­eral in­vest­ment treaties that give con­fi­dence and safety to the in­vestors that their prop­erty and in­vest­ment will not be ex­pro­pri­ated or na­tion­al­ized. In Pak­istan, no for­eign en­ter­prise has ever been na­tion­al­ized.

Thus, Pak­istan is fast at­tain­ing the sta­tus of a Busi­ness Op­por­tu­nity Zone ( BOZ) for po­ten­tial for­eign in­vestors. From the en­ergy sec­tor earn­ing rich div­i­dends to the huge un­tapped min­eral re­sources worth tril­lions of dol­lars, the coun­try of­fers a great at­trac­tion for for­eign in­vest­ment.

An in­creased in­ter­est has been shown by Asian in­vestors in the con­struc­tion sec­tor, as ev­i­dent by de­tails pro­vided by the As­so­ci­a­tion of Builders and De­vel­op­ers of Pak­istan ( ABAD). Saleem Kas­sim Pa­tel, Chair­man, ABAD, while brief­ing Chi­nese in­vestors on in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties of­fered by the con­struc­tion sec­tor, said, “As a top as­so­ci­a­tion of builders, ABAD wants to help for­eign in­vestors. A lot of Asian in­vestors, es­pe­cially those from Turkey, have re­cently en­quired about in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in Pak­istan, which shows the in­ter­est of for­eign in­vestors in the con­struc­tion sec­tor.”

Sim­i­larly, the Sri Lankan High Com­mis­sioner to Pak­istan, Jay­alath Weerakkody, has expressed the ea­ger­ness of his coun­try to en­hance trade re­la­tions with Pak­istan. Jay­alath said that Pak­istan and Sri Lanka are two ma­jor coun­tries in South Asia and mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion be­tween them would ben­e­fit the re­gion. “Sri Lanka is keen to in­vest in Pak­istan and the busi­ness com­mu­nity in Pak­istan must visit the Sri Lankan mar­kets to fur­ther en­hance re­la­tions.” Along with the sign­ing of a Free Trade Agree­ment, both coun­tries are fo­cused on the in­creas­ing bi­lat­eral trade vol­ume. Sri Lanka has also shown keen in­ter­est in strength­en­ing sin­gle coun­try Ex­pos.

With the sign­ing of the Pak- US Bi­lat­eral In­vest­ment Treaty ( BIT), a num­ber of un­re­solved is­sues be­tween the two coun­tries in­clud­ing scope and cov­er­age, trans­parency and fi­nan­cial ser­vices, claims on be­half of en­ter­prises, in­vest­ment agree­ments and ar­bi­tra­tion rules, would be cleared. A BIT is set up to open the doors for a Free Trade Agree­ment ( FTA) be­tween two coun­tries. It prom­ises to en­hance trade vol­ume, gen­er­ate more em­ploy­ment and spur busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties. The Bi­lat­eral In­vest­ment Treaty be­tween Pak­istan and the US is ex­pected to make up for Pak­istan’s loss of bil­lions of dol­lars in terms of lost in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and so­cial un­rest due to the war on ter­ror.

The US is also com­mit­ted to es­tab­lish­ing Re­con­struc­tion Op­por­tu­nity Zones ( ROZS) in Pak­istan to pro­vide mar­ket ac­cess and pro­mote bi­lat­eral trade and eco­nomic ties. The Trade Project fo­cuses on strength­en­ing Pak­istani ca­pa­bil­ity in both pri­vate and public sec­tor to plan, de­sign, reg­u­late and man­age vi­able Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones in some of the most chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ments in the coun­try.

It sup­ports max­i­mum pri­vate sec­tor in­volve­ment in the de­vel­op­ment of ROZS, while fo­cus­ing on the public sec­tor on cre­at­ing a busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment con­ducive to de­vel­op­ment and growth. At the same time, a twophased de­vel­op­ment ap­proach rec­og­nizes the chal­lenges on the ground. Phase- I is fo­cus­ing on ob­tain­ing ROZ des­ig­na­tion for ex­ist­ing fac­to­ries and in­dus­trial es­tates un­der cur­rent laws to ramp up the ROZ pro­gram rapidly. Phase- II will es­tab­lish new le­gal, reg­u­la­tory and in­sti­tu­tional frame­works for ROZS that will form the ba­sis of a broader pro­gram to at­tract new in­vest­ment.

In ad­di­tion, the Trade Project pro­vides tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance to SEZS, in­dus­trial es­tates and free zones in other lo­ca­tions in Pak­istan, aim­ing to broaden the ba­sis of sup­port to fa­cil­i­tate in­vest­ment by pri­vate sec­tor de­vel­op­ers and op­er­a­tors.

On pro­ject­ing Pak­istan as a best place for in­vest­ment and wel­com­ing for­eign in­vestors, Ir­fan Qaiser Sheikh, Pres­i­dent LCCI, termed the eco­nomic in­di­ca­tors as turn­ing pos­i­tive sup­ported by an im­prov­ing law and or­der sit­u­a­tion and the in­vest­ment cli­mate pick­ing up. He said avail­abil­ity of cheaper skilled and un­skilled labour, low priced land as com­pared to other re­gional coun­tries and an in­fra­struc­ture of in­ter­na­tional stan­dards would def­i­nitely cre­ate a win- win sit­u­a­tion for global in­vestors.

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