Singapore: â€œThe economy of Pakistan has been growing steadily during the last several years. There is great scope for growth of investments for Singapore companies in Pakistan.â€ said Nasrullah Khan, Pakistanâ€™s High Commissioner to Singapore, in an interview to the Strait Times.The High Commissioner informed the daily that Pakistan is planning to hold a day-long investment conference here in Singapore in August to highlight to the local business community new investment opportunities in the country, which is experiencing steady economic growth of over 4 per cent annually. Already, plans for the massive China Pakistan economic Corridor (CPEC) have crossed US$55 billion (S$77 billion), with an additional US$10 billion being committed over the past 12 months, said Pakistanâ€™s High Commissioner to Singapore, Mr. Nasrullah Khan.
Pakistan Board of Investment will be the moving force behind the conference which is being organised in cooperation with the Singapore Business Federation and is expected to attract about 200 participants. Experts will speak on specific opportunities in different economic sectors. â€œThe proposed conference will focus on investment opportunities in Pakistan, especially against the backdrop of the CPEC. Besides, it is also expected to increase trade with Singapore and promote Pakistan as a business-friendly destination, facilitating commercial activities,â€ said the High Commissioner. Pakistanâ€™s trade with Singapore is about US$1.8 billion as per the latest data available. â€œPresently, there is still great scope for growth of investments for Singapore companies in Pakistan. â€œThe economy of Pakistan has been growing steadily during the last several years, with more than 4 per cent annual growth rate. â€œMorgan Stanley and other institutions have categorised Pakistanâ€™s economy, expected to grow at the rate of more than 4 per cent in the long term,â€ said Mr. Khan. Through the upcoming road-show, Pakistan intends to highlight its liberal, business-friendly, multidimensional reform process and an enabling investment climate that offers equal and non-discriminatory treatment to local and foreign investors. â€œThere is need to inform the Singapore businessmen that, despite the negative security perceptions of Pakistan in the media, the trade and investment environment has remained positive. â€œForeign companies are conducting substantive profitable business in the country and giving attractive dividends to their shareholders,â€ Mr. Khan pointed out. Almost all sectors of the economy are open for 100 per cent foreign investment, and repatriation of profits, dividends, capital gains and investment, it allowed as the elected government of Pakistan attaches great importance to the economic development of the country.
â€œOur focus is on reducing the cost of doing business and eliminating cumbersome administrative procedures to provide ease of doing business. â€œWe are working to create a market-responsive public sector for private-sector development,â€ said Mr. Khan. New projects worth about US$10 billion have been added to the CPEC in the past year.
The additional investment is to be made in the rehabilitation and upgrading of the railway system from the port city of Karachi â€“ the countryâ€™s commercial capital to Peshawar in the North. The modern railway is destined to play a critical role in the economic development of Pakistan, said Mr. Khan. He added that that his countryâ€™s energy sector offers great investment potential with scope in oil and gas, hydro, coal and wind energy. The Pakistan government is offering more incentives to the Private sector for development independent power producers and rental power projects. With increased mobile phone penetration and increasing demand for technologies like VoIP (Voice over Internet protocol) and satellite access technologies, Pakistan offers opportunities in telecoms investment. Some successful telecom investors in the country include Orascom (Vimpel Com), Telenor, Etisalat, China Mobile and Singtel. Besides the textile industry, foreign investors can also explore the agriculture, livestock, poultry and dairy sectors. Construction and housing is another area of interest to Singapore companies. The mineral sector, as well as transport, are areas where Singapore companies can invest in profitably, said Mr. Khan.
Looking ahead to promoting bilateral cooperation in other areas, Mr. Khan said that Pakistan hopes to hold an exhibition here on Buddhist artefacts as the country is rich in Buddhist heritage. â€œThe ancient Gandhara kingdom was a Buddhist civilisation and Pakistan was the heartland of that civilisation, so we want to bring some artefacts to be displayed at the National Museum of Singapore.â€ The High Commission is also working to promote Pakistan as a tourism destination for those who love sightseeing, nature and adventure, as the country is home to some of the most beautiful locations, delectable cuisine and hospitable people. â€œThe country has got everything from deserts to beaches, ancient civilisations to some of the highest mountains in the word. The number of tourists is rising steadily now that the security situation has improved,â€ said Mr. Khan.
The interview was conducted by Mr. Narendera Aggarwal, Managing Editor, SPH. It was published in The Straits Times 23.3.2017 edition.