DAVOS  - Foreign investors gathered here at the World Economic Forum Saturday lauded Pakistan’s rich potential, its liberal trade policies and urged others to follow suit by injecting money in its diverse sectors.
Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani who hosted a business luncheon in honour of the heads and representatives of business houses from across the world, wooed foreign businessmen and multinational companies to benefit from Pakistan’s investment regime as the country offered promising opportunities in energy, infrastructure and livestock sectors.
“This is the right time to invest in Pakistan. All sectors of economy are open for foreign investment,” Gilani told the international business tycoons here on the sidelines of World Economic Forum.
The major investors in Pakistan like the Nestle, Telenor, Metro Group, Bata, Pepsi Co, Unilever and many others shared with their fellow businessmen the solid footings they had in the country, and rich potential to expand business.
The Prime Minister said entrepreneurs and multinational companies would agree that the country offered most promising business opportunities and mentioned the Switzerland based Nestle’, which had a long and highly profitable history of operating in Pakistan.
“We offer one of the friendliest and most liberal foreign investment regimes and public-private partnership frameworks in the world. It has been reformed to provide hassle free one window service for the convenience of investors,” he said. He said the country was in the process of framing legislation for Special Economic Zones with maximum facilities for the foreign investors.
Gilani mentioned several incentives for foreign investors that guaranteed security to their business, including a well regulated banking and financial sector, a regulatory and legal regime offering framework at par with western standards and advanced information technology and telecommunication services.
He said other strengths of Pakistan’s investment system were the repatriation of capital and profit guaranteed through enacted laws, and added that returns were significantly higher and assured.
He said at present, the fundamentals of economy were robust, stock exchanges were buoyant and record exports were registered last year.
“Investors can come to Pakistan and start business without any approvals and sanctions on hundred percent equity basis. They can avail the facility of contracting foreign private loans as well as domestic loans for their investment,” he said.
Gilani said Pakistan had excellent infrastructure within the country and was adequately connected with regional countries both through - road and rail network, besides air links.
He counted the country’s capacity to produce energy from multiple sources - 50,000 mega watts by optimizing hydel resources and more from 185 billion tons of Thar coal reserves.
He said wind and solar energy projects also offered very promising opportunities for investment. To a question, Gilani said Pakistan was an energy deficient country and has invited investors to come to Pakistan and help it meet energy needs that have continued to grow over the years with increased industrialization.
He said Pakistan was seeking natural gas from Iran and Turkmenistan and was also engaged with India, which also has some surplus energy and could provide to Pakistan. He said Pakistan was also willing to do business with India as well.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan was self sufficient in food products, a major producer of cotton and the fourth largest producer of milk.
He regretted that the country could process only ten percent of the produce and hence the livestock and dairy industry had great potential for investment and profitability.
Gilani also dwelled upon Pakistan’s tourism potential being the melting pot of civilizations for thousands of years from Indus valley to Gandhara, from the endless peaks of the Karakoram Mountains to the architectural former Mughal capital Lahore, and from the ancient bazaars of Peshawar to the cosmopolitan Karachi.
“Pakistanis are industrious, well meaning, warm hearted and hospitable people. It has a lot to offer to visitors in terms of its history, culture and tourism,” he said. Gilani said however for some odd combination of factors, Pakistan got an unfair share of bad press in the world. “No doubt we have our share of difficulties due to prolonged instability in the neighborhood. However, our institutions are strong and we are fully in control of the situation,” he said.
He said the elected government attached highest priority to the social well-being of its people and economic development of the country.
Prime Minister Gilani said Pakistan was the sixth most populous country in the world and could prove a large market with dynamic demographics having more than sixty percent of its 180 million population under 25 years of age.
He said the port facilities at Karachi and Gwadar had the capacity to cater for the requirements of Central Asian States and even Western parts of China.
He mentioned the country’s rich natural resources of gold, copper, coal, gas and even rare earth metals.