Pakistan a Central Asia investment gateway

Update: March, 23/2015 - 08:52

Huge success: PM Nawaz Sharif cuts a ribbon inaugurating Expo Pakistan 2015 held from February 26 to March 1 in Karachi. The country received US$1.3 billion in business from the event. — Photo courtesy of Pakistan Embassy

In a National Day message, Pakistani Ambassador Zaigham Uddin Azam summarizes opportunities that the nation's ‘unique geographic matrix' offers.

Pakistan is a demographically vibrant country, with the ninth largest available work force in the world. Its estimated working population of 110 million constitutes 60 per cent of the total population, making Pakistan rich in terms of labour.

Pakistan's unique geographic matrix offers diverse opportunities. Its central plains are a rich granary feeding 180 million people, while its shores provide needed sea access points to landlocked Central Asia.

Its northern mountainous regions overflow with natural springs and its southern, hilly tracts are full of mineral resources. Pakistan offers avenues for developing its vast reservoir of agricultural, industrial, natural and mineral resources all across the country.

The government of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif introduced sound economic policies and management after a landslide victory in 2013. Its policies resulted notable economic progress. For the first time in the six years, an economic growth rate of more than 4 per cent was achieved in 2013-14.

Pakistan rupee also remained stable vis-a-vis the US dollar. The CPI inflation was kept in single digit at 8.6 per cent in 2013-14.

Credit rating agency Moody's raised Pakistan's outlook from negative to stable in recognition of its improved economic performance. The Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) declared Pakistan second in the world in term of business growth for Japanese companies abroad. According to Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill, Pakistan would become the world's 18th largest economy by 2050, with a GDP of US$3.33 trillion. Pakistan's current position is 44th.

Expo Pakistan 2015 was organised during the last week of February at the Karachi Expo Centre to showcase the coun-try's large collection of export merchandise and services. According to a Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), the country received $1.3 billion in business from the four-day event.

Twenty Vietnamese businessmen representing the healthcare, pharmaceutical, food, finance, banking and plastic sectors also participated in the expo.

The Pakistan government believes in no-holds-barred foreign investment regimes. It has made the Board of Investment (BOI) the highest-level agency empowered to help investors plan and implement their ventures.

The board is widely recognised for offering extremely liberal foreign investment opportunities in the region. It allows 100 per cent foreign equity and no limit on repatriation of profits, particularly in large-scale infrastructure and manufacturing.

It is home to a rapidly growing, market-oriented economy. Potential growth sectors such as infrastructure, power and natural resources are open to large scale investment.

On the social side, Pakistan is looking to upgrade its education and health sectors, with a view to synchronise them with rest of the world.

Investment incentives in Pakistan are diverse and business-friendly. There are tremendous prospects for co-production, joint ventures with local partners and joint marketing arrangements. The taxation regime is one of the lowest in the region, with a multiplicity of tax concessions and tax exemptions for specific businesses.

As an investment destination, Pakistan offers investor-friendly policies. Almost all sectors of the economy are open to investment, with attractive incentives and liberal policies that give Pakistan an edge over its regional competitors. — VNS