KARACHI: Pakistan is once again surfacing as an emerging market for the foreign investors. The GDP growth of over 5 percent, growing consumer market driven by the growing middle class, functional democratic institutions in the country and substantial improvements in the security situation of the country are all positive economic indicators.
The economic horizon of the country is further brightened with the successful launch of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) whose positive effects are now surfacing on ground. In a positive development, the CPEC is beginning to be recognized by global investors as an initiative of good value to all investors who opts to derive business benefits out of it.
It is a major shift from the earlier perception that CPEC is China-Pakistan centric and tends to isolate Pakistan from the radar of other global investors. The Swiss Business Council (SBC) Pakistan in collaboration with the Swiss Embassy and Consulate General in Pakistan and its business associates in Switzerland took up the initiative to project these positive developments to global investors and in particular to market CPEC as a project of global value.
The SBC’s investment events, held for the purpose in Islamabad and Karachi respectively, which were widely participated by ambassadors, commercial councilors of foreign missions, business leaders and the media.
As a follow-up to ground work in Pakistan, in early July 2017, a delegation of SBC Pakistan visited Switzerland to invoke Swiss investments and enhance bilateral trade between Pakistan and Switzerland, much driven by the opportunities offered under CPEC.
In the events organized for SBC by its business partners in Switzerland, notably, Switzerland Global Enterprises (S-GE) near Lucerne and by Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce (SACC) and Asia Society Switzerland (ASS) in Zurich, the changing business and political dynamics in Pakistan and the region was debated and the value addition offered to Swiss investors under CPEC was highlighted in terms of enhanced regional connectivity and accessibility to unexplored markets through state of art road and rail network, enhancement in the energy capacity of the country through an investment of over US$ 35 Billion and establishment of over 30 Special Economic Zones all over the country.
All the said events in Switzerland were remarkably well attended by the business leaders, bankers, Swiss business chambers and opinion makers, signifying the growing Swiss interests. The high point of the events was high-level panel discussions on CPEC participated by a large number of business leaders, notably, from Nestlé, Sika, SACC, ASS, SBC, Pakistan's Ambassador to Switzerland and the Swiss Consul General in Karachi.
In a meeting held at the Federal Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO) at Bern with Ambassador Livia Leu, the CPEC project was discussed at length and its salient features were presented. SECO is Switzerland’s Ministry responsible for the economic affairs of the country. Dr. Aman Rashid (Pakistan's Ambassador to Switzerland) and Mr. Philippe Crevoisier (Swiss Consul General in Karachi) were part of the delegation with their strong presence at all of the events.
Participants from SBC were Farhat Ali (President), Asif Ikram (Past President), K. M. Iqbal (Director), Kalim Farooqi (Member) and Fletcher P. Albert (Business Development Manager).
Farhat Ali, President-SBC, while concluding the outcome of the Trade Mission to Switzerland stated: "It is encouraging that foreign investors have once again started to look at Pakistan with interest. The level and quality of participation at each of the events in Switzerland adds credentials to the changing trend of the investors in favor of Pakistan. In the last two years, SBC in collaboration with S-GE, has managed to secure the foot print of six new Swiss SMEs in Pakistan. The target of 2017 is to motivate the presence of an additional six Swiss SMEs in Pakistan".
He further concluded: "Pakistan needs more of these global initiatives to reach out to foreign investors at their door steps. The perception of Pakistan in global fraternity is not favorable and needs dramatic improvement by reaching out, one-to-one, to the business leaders and opinion makers to correct this perception. CPEC is something we now have in hand which must be utilized to full extent to present to the world the new positioning of Pakistan in the changing political and business dynamics in this emerging region of Asia where Pakistan has to play a significant role. European countries need new markets and accessibility. Pakistan, being an emerging market and strategically located has a good potential to fill in these gaps and capitalize on the given situation".