KUWAIT INVESTMENT IN PAKISTAN

Pak-Kuwait Investment Co and Al-Meezan Bank could tap more investment opportunities in Pakistan and participate in the economic growth

From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI,
 Islamabad

Mar 01 - 07, 2004

Bilateral economic relations between the two countries specially Kuwait investments in Pakistan is likely to boost as a result of understanding developed in the 2 day meeting of Pak-Kuwait Joint Ministerial Commission which concluded in Islamabad on Friday last week.

Addressing a joint press conference with Federal Finance Minister, Shaukat Aziz, the visiting Kuwait Minister for Commerce and Industry, Abdullah Abdul Rehman Al-Taweel said that currently the Fund's portfolio in Pakistan was US$ 245 million for twelve projects which is expected to expand. Kuwait has also promised to help Pakistan get dialogue partner status in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to further enhance economic, trade and investment relations with it.

The Kuwaiti Commerce Minister said his country was impressed by Pakistan economic performance and progress during the last few years. Not only that Kuwait Development Fund would increase investment in the country's infrastructure development, such as roads, power, water, telecommunication and social sectors, Kuwaiti investors were showing keen interest in Pakistan's privatization programme. He also indicated that Kuwait might increase intake of Pakistani manpower.

Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz said Kuwait was an important development partner and exporter of capital, which could increase its investment in the financial sector, especially capital market and housing. He hoped assistance by Kuwait, which had provided over US$ 209 million would increase manifold. Pak-Kuwait Investment Company has invested 74 million Kuwaiti dinars.

He said Pak-Kuwait Investment Co and Al-Meezan Bank could tap more investment opportunities in Pakistan and participate in the economic growth. He invited Abdullah to explore possibilities of investment in oil and gas sector and telecommunications, as Pakistan was one of the potential markets.

The two sides also discussed ways to increase cooperation between the private sectors of the two countries to tap investment potential and boost economic and trade relations. Mr. Aziz invited Kuwait to participate in the Pakistan Development Forum in order to identify areas of cooperation and investment potential. He added Islamabad would encourage interaction between private sectors of Pakistan and Gulf Cooperation Council at bilateral and multilateral level. The two sides also agreed that institutionanlised mechanism of Joint Ministerial Commission would further increase economic cooperation between the two countries. Its second meeting, currently being held in Islamabad, would help identify areas of economic cooperation.

Pakistan and Kuwait also agreed to encourage further cooperation through exchange of commercial delegation, to encourage organising special seminars, conferences and exhibitions, exchange of information regarding trade laws and regulations and investment opportunities in both the countries. They also agreed to establish a joint venture for rebuilding Iraq and business to business contract. The Kuwaiti Minister said that Kuwait was now chairman of Gulf Cooperation Council and through this forum "we will move together as one group and not forgetting our bilateral commitment to each other". He promised to facilitate Pakistan's partnership with the six nation GCC. He offered Pakistani businessmen to trade with GCC members through Kuwait.

The interest by the two sides expressed in investment acceleration and enhancing the volume of trade to around one billion US dollars on an annual basis is reassuring. Kuwait also showed investment interest in oil and gas, telecommunications, real estate and financial services. In addition to the joint ministerial commission, the existence of Pak-Kuwait Investment Company should serve as an institutional arrangement to promote bilateral economic and trade relations. The expansion of bilateral economic relations is the goal and it will now be more vigorously pursued.

In addition to developing bilateral economic relations, the opportunities to enhance trade and investment relations with the GCC members have also brightened. As Kuwait is the hub of economic activity in the reconstruction of Iraq, Pakistani businessmen can also participate in this effort either on their own or through joint ventures with the private sector of Kuwait. The negotiations between the two countries could be termed as highly fruitful as a wide range of economic cooperation on bilateral basis and on cooperative basis with the GCC is said to have come under discussion. In view of the expressed eagerness on the part of the two governments to enhace economic cooperation, the private sector will need to take follow-up initiatives. The assistance and support offered by Kuwait in this regard should be immensely helpful.

At a time when the country's high industrial output is leading economic growth, it is fair to assume that substantial surpluses should be available for exports. The need, therefore, is to enhance bilateral trade as well as that with the whole of the region. Kuwait is reported to have offered to Pakistani businessmen warehousing facility in its free trade zone where they could store their goods for onward transmission to various destinations of their choice. With the holding of the second meeting of Pak-Kuwait Joint Economic Commission, new investment and trade opportunities have come to light for the private sector in the two countries. As they explore these possibilities, the respective governments would be facilitating them in this regard. It is about time for early economic initiatives on the part of the private sector.