Perception is stronger than reality. Pakistan has been presented as an extremely insecure country in the Western media for a while. Even in Hollywood movies, terrorists during interrogation by the law enforcement agencies are asked whether they got training in Pakistan. It is about time that the true image of Pakistan was presented. Optimism for doing business in Pakistan needs to be highlighted.
Pakistan is a country full of opportunities for the business leaders from across the world. The Board of Investment (BoI) needs to play a proactive role in terms of image-building of Pakistan in the business world. Myriads of endeavors were made by the erstwhile governments to attract the multinational companies from across the world but to no avail. The PTI-led government needs to ensure that the multinational companies already working in Pakistan are facilitated as per the law of the land, however, massive efforts are required to attract more multinational companies since there are opportunities galore.
Since security plays a vital role in the business, the BoI needs to chalk out a policy framework in cooperation with the relevant ministries so that a wholesome strategy may surface. There is an urgency due to the economic health of the country to develop pre-emptive measures to manage the direct and indirect impact of the security situation. Terrorism poses a threat to businesses in many countries. Security concerns are not restricted to only Pakistan rather it is a global phenomenon. Pakistan has made tremendous progress in terms of security particularly since 2013. Way back in 2003, Interior Minister told a foreign delegation comprising multinational companies that the government would install surveillance cameras at strategic places in all the four provincial capitals and Islamabad. Cameras were also installed at main commercial centers, parks, diplomatic enclave, highways etc. Such measures did work to some extent, however, an enormous work is yet to be done to bring the multinational companies to Pakistan.
Karachi, the economic hub of Pakistan, with the population of over 20 million needs to be developed and the multinational companies must be invited to invest in the metropolis in addition to other cities of Pakistan such as Quetta, Peshawar, Lahore, Faisalabad etc. Security in Karachi has improved manifold over the period of last five years with the exception of trivial crimes. The menace of crime has been controlled to great extent, however, the trivial crimes comprising mobile and cash-snatching still need to be controlled to improve the perception of the metropolis since the multinational investors do look at this. There is substantial decline in serious crimes such as abductions, hostage-taking and extortion demands.
The world’s top 10 business travel destinations comprise San Francisco, London, Edinburgh, Toronto, Dublin, New York, Mexico City, Hong Kong, Frankfurt and Istanbul. There is hefty investment by multinational companies in these cities in particular. Karachi could be one of the most favorite business travel destinations in case the better image is projected for the benefit of the entire country. Comparatively, a higher number of expatriate business visitors travelled to Pakistan in last couple of years which augurs well for the incumbent government.
Since there are no economic borders across the world owing to the concept of globalization, globally minded companies are penetrating in a number of countries for the sake of being competitive. Pakistan has to capitalize on it and attract the companies with global operations which would benefit in terms of addressing the external fiscal issues.
The contribution of the multinational companies in the neighboring India for last three decades i.e. post 1991 has made the country as one of the emerging economies of the world. Being the third largest economy in Asia after China and Japan, India has benefited to the hilt in terms of transfer of technology, human development, and foreign investment to say last but not least. The Indians claim that multinational corporations are investing more than domestic companies whereas the World Bank a couple of years ago ranked India last in terms of ability to enforce contracts and in ease of doing business, which includes regulatory approval and permits.
Pakistan’s economic woes are short-lived. Pakistan is going to rise on the map of the world. It is presumed that the global companies are getting ready to venture in Pakistan. Global investors may contribute as they contributed in Brazil and are contributing in Africa.
Global investors sustained Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy, in 2013 during its worst recession in history. Multinational companies kept pouring money in Brazil despite record downturn. Global investors invested $79 billion in Brazil during the height of the recession couple of years ago. Chinese, Indian and Brazilian multinational companies have made significant investments across Africa. Coca-Cola and Exxon Mobil are among leading global investors in Africa.
There is a prevalent assumption that the Asian economies have been the main focus of global investors for last few years because of their growth nature and the way they facilitate the establishment of new businesses. The global investors focus on India, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan etc. whereas Pakistan has more to offer to the global investors because of its strategic location and young English speaking educated youth.