Foreigners positive over Pakistan’s investment scenario

KARACHI: Foreign investors in Pakistan are optimistic about the investment scenario in the country as 75% of the survey respondents foresee growth to continue in their business, including further investments, according to a new survey conducted by Overseas Investment Chambers of Commerce and Industry (OICCI).

The survey, which was conducted in November 2017, reveals that investors are primarily positive due to better electricity supply and improving security situation in the country. OICCI President Khalid Mansoor met Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and presented the results of ‘Perception and Investment Survey 2017’.

Abbasi said the government is aware of issues faced by OICCI members and will continue to engage regularly in ensuring that the investment and business in Pakistan flourishes faster than any other country in the region .

“Overall results of the survey reflect improved and positive sentiments of the members of the OICCI,” said Mansoor.

The OICCI president added that a noteworthy change has taken place in terms of top challenges faced by the OICCI members.

‘Energy Shortage’ identified as the second biggest challenge in the last three surveys has dropped out of the top five, whilst ‘Security, Law and Order’ which topped the list in the last three surveys has been identified as the third biggest challenge this time.

Moreover, nearly 66% of the respondents indicated plans to make new investments, out of which nearly eight out of ten respondents plan to invest more or similar amounts over the next one to five years. The planned investment in business and human capital is expected to boost revenue and profitability, as 85% of the respondents are expecting increased sales and 68% expect their profits to rise.

About 80% of the OICCI members have stated that they will recommend Pakistan to potential foreign investors. When comparing the business climate in Pakistan with that in ten regional countries, more than half the respondents gave a higher rating to Pakistan, as compared to India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Philippines and Vietnam.

Moreover, 71% of the members regarded Pakistan as a “Medium Risk” country, which is a vast improvement and a positive indicator for new investors.

A number of foreign investors has given good ratings for certain aspects of doing business like ‘access to local finance’, ‘safety of foreign investment’ and relatively favourable ratings for an ‘independent legal system’, and ‘protecting minority interest’, which reflect the liberal and investor-friendly policies appreciated by foreign investors.

To further add to the optimism, recent accords signed by the government have all been given the green light by the respondents. Majority of the respondents support the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, which most people believe will be a ‘game changer’ for Pakistan.

Respondents also feel that Pakistan’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will favourably impact the business environment in Pakistan. Half the respondents have shared positive views about Pakistan becoming a signatory of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as this agreement may lead to broadening the tax base in Pakistan, by compelling the citizens to declare offshore income and assets. 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2018.

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