Pakistan ready to do business with the world, PM
DAVOS: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has said that Pakistan is now on the track of sustainable growth and is “ready to do business with the world”. “Offering attractive investment policies, Pakistan is a destination that no global player can miss,” the prime minister said in his address to leading businessmen at a dinner hosted by Abraaj Group late Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland, where is attending the 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum. The prime minister said the strategically located Pakistan was now politically stable, with sixth largest population in the world, a market with more than 80 million people with purchasing power, and blessed with rich human and natural resources. “I invite you to take benefit from the economic revival of Pakistan and enjoy the first mover’s advantage,” the prime minister told the audience comprising top business attending the Forum. Nawaz Sharif said his government was working to ensure rule of law in the country while making democratic institutions stronger and more relevant in all aspects of governance. He said coming to the World Economic Forum was a great opportunity to meet global thinkers, policymakers and business leaders who shape the future of the people. The prime minister said economic conditions in Pakistan were improving continuously and from a 3 percent GDP growth before 2013, it was projected to achieve 5.5 percent GDP growth during the current year. He mentioned that focused was laid on technology, energy, modern infrastructure and a thriving investment climate besides reduction in bank interest rates and exemptions.
“Pakistan is an inclusive, tolerant and forward looking society. Pakistan is as safe as any other place in the world,” he said. He mentioned that Pakistan’s Vision 2025 served as a comprehensive strategy for achieving sustainable growth and mapped the country to join the top 25 economies in the world, leading to Upper Middle Income country status by 2025. He said the economy was targeted to grow over 8 percent between 2018 and 2025 while maintaining a single-digit inflation. “Over the past three years, we managed to bring down the fiscal deficit from 8.6 to 4.2 percent, increase tax-to-GDP ratio from 9.8 to 12.4 percent and investment-to-GDP ratio from 14.9 to 15.2 percent,” he said. He said inflation which touched 1.6 percent in October 2015 was now contained and had remained well under 3 percent since then, besides industrial sector registering growth at 6.8 percent. The prime minister mentioned growing consumer market and expanding for US and European products, liberal investment policies, incentives to attract new capital inflows including tax exemptions, tariff reductions, infrastructure, and investor facilitation services. He said Investment Policy (2013) focused at reducing the cost of doing business in Pakistan and Special Economic Zones to attract foreign direct investment, all protected by legislation. The Prime Minister told the businessmen that there was no minimum requirement for the amount of foreign equity, investment or upper limit on the share of foreign equity allowed except in the airline, banking, agriculture and media sectors, and foreign companies were allowed to repatriate 100 percent profits. He mentioned that Pakistan Stock Exchange had been created to lower fragmentation of the market and bring it at par with global markets. He said the bench mark index PSE100, crossed 49,000 in January 2017 and was touching new heights, adding that recently, 40 percent strategic shares of Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) were sold to a Chinese consortium.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan was the fourth largest milk producing country with third largest livestock population in the world with significant potential for setting up processing units for local consumption and exports. He mentioned that the recent decision of Dutch leaders in this sector to invest US $460 million in a local food and dairy processing industry was a testament of our potential. He said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a key regional initiative for connectivity and shared prosperity of nations. He mentioned that international economic agencies were upgrading ratings for the financial and economic stability of Pakistan, including Standard & Poor and World bank. Investors at the event spoke high of the success of the Pakistan’s economic policies. Mustafa al Wadood, Managing Partner of Abraaj Group, said his company had invested over US $700 million in financial, consumer and energy sector. He said the present government has doubled economic growth, halved fiscal deficit, while the country’s stock exchange was amongst the top five in Asia. Michael Renee of McKinsey and Company spoke of the stability of Pakistan’s economic policies and said improved security was now a big attraction for foreign investors. Jay Collins, Vice President of Citibank, said his bank was proud to be amongst the top banks serving the country’s public and private sector. He said the bank raised US$2.5bln worth of strategic transactions for Pakistan and the foreign companies. Nitten, President of Unilever, said his company has built a large business base in Pakistan and said it had a continued commitment. He said Pakistan ranked among top 20 business friendly countries. Arif Naqvi, CEO of Abraaj Group, said Pakistan was a country that was on the move, with a fantastic potential. He said this government had done more to provide a business-friendly environment.
Investment friendly environment
The prime minister said his government had devised a comprehensive plan to create investment friendly environment and was liberalising its policies to welcome foreign entrepreneurs. “We offer incentives to attract new capital inflows, including tax exemptions, tariff reductions, infrastructure, and investor facilitation services,” the prime minister said. He was talking here to a group of heads of top ranking companies at a roundtable on the sidelines of the 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, including top executives Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Ingredion Incorporated, KOC Holding, Telenor Group, Nestle, Novartis AG, Global Partnerships and Swiss Re Management Ltd. The CEOs were appreciative of the positive economic outlook of Pakistan and shared their optimism regarding investment in Pakistan. They said they were pleased to find Pakistan a good destination for re-export of their value added products. They expressed optimism that Pakistan was now ready for investment due to its sound economic policies.
Pakistan, Norway to focus on trade, investment sectors
Pakistan and Norway Thursday vowed to focus on trade, investment and development cooperation in a bid to further expand their bilateral relations. In a meeting with his counterpart Erna Solberg he said that Pakistan greatly valued its relations with Norway and recalled his productive visit to Norway in July 2015, followed by meeting in New York on the sidelines of General Assembly session in September 2015. He apprised the Norwegian premier of his government’s focus on trade and economic cooperation, rather than aid. He noted that Norway had been a strong partner for investment, trade and development cooperation with Pakistan. The two leaders called for exploring new avenues of cooperation.
Bill Gates lauds Pakistan’s anti-polio efforts
In a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, business leader, entrepreneur and head of the Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates appreciated the tremendous success of Pakistan in eradication of polio virus from the country over the past three years. While commending the leadership role of the prime minister, Bill Gates said the year 2017 would be a year of polio eradication from Pakistan. The prime minister briefed Bill Gates on the measures taken by his government in the national fight against the deadly polio virus. Bill Gates said he was looking forward to his visit to Pakistan in coming months.