South Asian country faces uphill battle in attracting investment
Pakistan needs increased investment and trade opportunities from the UAE to build the economy and help it become more independent from foreign aid, the chief minister of Punjab province said on Monday.
Mohammed Shahbaz Sharif told a trade conference in Dubai: "We are not here to seek aid but rather trade. It is investment, trade, joint ventures and modern technology that will empower us."
Sharif, leading a delegation of 100 businessmen from Pakistan, said the troubled South Asian country seeks investment from the UAE, its second largest trade and investment partner, in sectors including energy, agriculture, livestock, mining and telecommunications.
Representatives from the Punjab Board of Investment and Trade signed 11 initial agreements worth $1.3bn with potential investors in the UAE at the event but said the nation is struggling with the perception that Pakistan is a risky investment due to corruption and mounting Islamic militancy.
Sharif conceded that the country faces an uphill battle in attracting foreign investment due to negative perceptions in the global market, adding that the nation has fallen behind India.
He said the potential for growth is strong, given natural resources and agriculture. UAE companies could seek construction deals in Punjab during a slowdown at home.
In November, sources told Reuters that Pakistan, a key US ally, is cutting its development spending by almost half, amid worsening economic conditions and demands set out by the IMF as part of an $11bn loan in 2008.(Reuters)