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Pakistan eyes more investments from UAE companies

Country keen on investments in financial services, retail, hospitality, health care and venture capital funds among others

Gulf News

Dubai: Pakistan is aiming to attract more investments from the UAE especially in the services sectors, with representatives from the south Asian country currently in Dubai for trade talks.

Naeem Zamindar, Pakistan’s Minister of State and chairman of the Prime Minister’s Board of Investment, said the country is eyeing companies operating in industries that include financial services, retail, hospitality, health care, and even venture capital (VC) funds.

As Zamindar put it, “Anything you can produce, Pakistan can consume,” pointing to the country’s growing population of young people.

“Pakistan is a very high-return market. Its economy is growing rapidly, there’s great demand,” he said during an event in Dubai.

Zamindar said that Pakistan, with an economy expected to grow at 6.3 per cent in 2018, is targeting economic growth of 9 per cent from 2020. He said the country is looking to grow its foreign direct investments at what he called “a turning point” for Pakistan as the security situation “has improved dramatically”.

The country is also working on improving ease of doing business to attract more foreign investors. Pakistan currently ranks at 147th place among 190 countries in terms of ease of doing business, but is aiming to improve that to a ranking in the top 50.

The minister added that Pakistan’s economy is expected to benefit from China’s Belt and Road Initiative as Pakistan is going to be integrated in the supply chain connecting other countries together.

“The opportunity from China is huge. A $10-trillion economy is sitting there wanting us to be part of their supply chain. The eastern provinces in China have developed; the western haven’t. We are the route to that opportunity,” Zamindar said, pointing that Pakistan already has a free trade agreement with China.

He was speaking at an event organised by the Pakistan Business Council during a trip to the Gulf where he will also meet business delegations in Saudi Arabia. He has already visited Kuwait to discuss opportunities.

The UAE currently accounts for 7.5 per cent of foreign direct investment in Pakistan, Zamindar said, though most of those are in oil and gas, power, finance, and communications.