Concern shown on slim foreign investment in Pakistan

Karachi: Pakistan France Business Alliance (PFBA) believes that the country’s situation on the economic front is still grim and no major domestic or foreign industrial investment is forthcoming as yet.

‘The much awaited structural reforms for the short and long term solution of the energy crisis, widening of the tax net and the improvement of the functioning of vital public sector corporations still remain a distant dream,’ said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer PFBA Jamil Hamdani.

He was addressing the members after the second Annual General Meeting (AGM) of PFBA held here on Tuesday at a local hotel. PFBA Patron-in-Chief and Ambassador of France in Pakistan Mme Martine Dorance was the chief guest at the occasion.

‘While the big national corporations like PIA and Pakistan steel mills are facing deep problems, no major domestic or foreign industrial investment is forthcoming as yet,’ added Jamil while giving a brief overview of the economy and the general situation of the country.

It is to be noted that PFBA is the representative forum of Pakistani companies having business relations with France and French companies working in Pakistan and has 192 member companies nationwide. Majority of the members are Karachi based followed by Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Peshawar and Islamabad.

According to the chairman PFBA since the last AGM in 2015 of the company the country has undergone a defining period. ‘The government and the state institutions have boldly taken up the existential challenge faced by the country by frontally facing the terrorist menace,’ said Jamil.

He said foreign investment is the key to the development of the key economic sectors. ‘If the government of Pakistan has to take adequate measures to facilitate foreign investment, foreign investors, including the large French multinationals, in energy, agro-food, transport and water and sanitation sectors also have to revise their negative outlook concerning Pakistan,’ he suggested.

However, he added, the economic potential of the country has been under-exploited by local investors and under-estimated by foreign investors. ‘I hope that the new automobile policy will encourage European automobile manufacturers to enter the field,’ added Jamil.

CEO PFBA also expressed satisfaction over the continued increase in the bilateral trade between France and Pakistan as the two-way trade has for the 5th year running crossed the symbolic threshold of a billion Euros. ‘More than 40 French companies are established in Pakistan either as direct subsidiaries, representation offices or joint ventures,’ he added.

He said French companies in Pakistan are providing employment to about 5500 persons. Jamil Hamdani highlighted the successful collaboration between PFBA and Business France agency for providing useful trade leads to the members of PFBA and other businessmen.

A regular stream of information and market studies for French companies is maintained by the Business support office of PFBA. The Pakistani professional visiting various exhibitions in Dubai such as Arab Health, Gulf food and Beauty World are provided facilitation for setting up meetings with French exhibitors.

He requested to Director South Asia of Business France Thibaut Fabre to reconsider the unfortunate decision (taken in 2013) to wind up the official French commercial representation in Karachi. At the end, he emphasized the need for PFBA to provide real-time two-way information and services to Pakistani and French companies regarding all aspects of identification of trade, business and investment opportunities in each other’s country.

‘It was the best and the only way to further develop trade and investment between the two countries,’ he emphasized. Director South Asia of the French Agency for External trade, Business France Thibaut Fabre and in-charge South Asia of Invest in France agency Dominique Frachon participated as special guests.

The Chief Guest also addressed the members and guests, while Head of the French Economic Department Eric Noitakis, Thibaut Fabre, and Dominique Frachon provided useful information to the members of PFBA.