HIGH-POWERED SWISS BUSINESS TEAM TO VISIT PAKISTAN

Swiss investment likely to see a boost in coming months due to liberal investment policies of the present regime.

From KHALID BUTT, Lahore
Feb 20 - 26, 2006

A high-powered Swiss business delegation, headed by top government functionaries, will visit Pakistan by the end of this year to assess the business and investment opportunities in various sectors.

This was stated by Swiss Amabassador Denis Feldmeyer at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Ambassador said that the Swiss business community was impressed with the economic turnaround made by Pakistan due to business-friendly policies of present government and wanted to make investments in Pakistan.

He said there were quite a few sectors wherein there exists huge potential for the Swiss businessmen, particularly the transfer of technology for the textile sector has a lot of scope. He said that several Swiss companies were already operating in Pakistan and conducting a successful business, which is enough to prove that the Swiss investment has a bright future in this country.

The Ambassador expressed the hope that Swiss investment would see a boost in coming months due to liberal investment policies of present regime. He also urged the LCCI President to bring a delegation to Switzerland so that both the sides could initiate joint ventures.

Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Mian Shafqat Ali said that Pakistan is among the fastest growing economies in the region. This robust growth has been underpinned by supportive macroeconomic policies, growing domestic demand, renewed confidence of the private sector, fiscal discipline and competitive exchange rates. The economic indicators in terms of gross domestic product, balance of payments and foreign exchange reserves are much stronger today than ever before, he said.

The LCCI President said that major bottleneck in the promotion of trade and economic activities between the two countries is the lack of information about business opportunities available in the two countries. "We need to undertake frequent activities like exchange of business delegations, organizing country exhibitions, participation in fairs & exhibitions, seminars and workshops etc. to ensure a continuous liaison. The interaction between the chambers of the two countries can be highly beneficial," he said.

He said the country has abundant natural resources and skilled cheap manpower but lacks technology. It is a key market of 155 million people. It is a gateway to the Central Asian Republics, South Asia and Gulf countries. Population of SAFTA alone stands at 1.4 billion people. The market of these countries including Afghanistan can be effectively and conveniently serviced from Pakistan, he added.

In his address, LCCI's Senior Vice President Abdul Basit said that Swiss economy is one of the most developed economies of the world. It has highly advanced industries such as machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles and precision instruments. He invited Swiss businessmen to invest in Pakistan on 100% equity basis or in the form of joint ventures with local industries as the output of these industries will not only be consumed in Pakistan but will find its way in the much expanded market of SAFTA, Central Asian Republics, Afghanistan and Gulf countries. Such experiences have been very successful in Pakistan. Bayer, Abbot, Searle, Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Massey Ferguson, Fiat, Nestle etc. are all success stories.

He said that the present government has adopted a liberal investment policy and there is no restriction on sending back the principal dividends, profits and royalties. He urged the Swiss businessmen to come forward and seize upon the unprecedented investment opportunities in Pakistan.

LCCI's Vice President Aftab Ahmad Vohra said that another attractive area, which can pay rich dividends to Swiss investors is the banking sector of Pakistan.

He said Pakistan's rice, textiles, sports, surgical & leather products and fruits such as mango and kinnoo are best of the best in the world. Pakistan has a competitive edge over the countries in terms of price also. Swiss traders need to compare the quality and price of our products to meet their domestic demand, he added.