US, Pakistani business leaders, diplomats emphasize huge investment

WASHINGTON: Highlighting Pakistan’s tremendous economic potential and robust performance of its capital markets, a delegation of Karachi Stock Exchange told American investors they stand to gain from business prospects the South Asian country of 180 million people offers.

Muneer Kamal, Chairman, Karachi Stock Exchange and Nadeem Naqvi, the KSE Managing Director, spoke to a gathering of US-Pakistan Business Council, as Pakistani and American business leaders discussed ways to strengthen bilateral trade, economic and investment cooperation.

Senior U.S. and Pakistani diplomats including Ambassador Robin Raphe, Advisor to the Special Representative on Pakistan and Afghanistan and Charge d’ Affaires at the Pakistani embassy in Washington Dr. Asad M Khan vowed to facilitate private sector collaboration between the two countries.

According to a presentation made by the KSE leaders, Pakistan had lower volatility than 82% of nations around the globe, including the United States. “Over five years, Pakistan’s risk adjusted returns ranked eighth in the world. From January to May 2013, KSE-100 has risen by 25%, the best performance in emerging Asia, while over the last eleven months it has risen by 52%.”

The delegation informed the American entrepreneurs that despite a mix of challenges, underlying fundamentals of Pakistani economy remain strong with a large and growing middle class consumer base rise in rural incomes, and rapid telecom and media penetration across the country.

Pakistan, they said, is the 25th largest economy in the world and has the 7th largest labour force, and recorded a 4.8% average GDP growth in the last decade.

Moreover, the Pakistani economy withstood impact of global financial crisis, devastating floods in 2010/11 and negative repercussions of the Afghan war.

The large agricultural sector accounts for 25% of GDP but 60% of employment while private consumption makes up about 75% of GDP.

In view of the strong growth potential, vast market and talented workforce, they also apprised the American and Pakistani-American entrepreneurs of the expansion in the middle class income in the years ahead.

Charge d’ Affaires, Dr. Asad M. Khan thanked the US-Pakistan Business Council for promoting trade and business linkages between Pakistan and the United States.

He drew attention of the business gathering to some of the ongoing positive developments in Pakistan, which will have far-reaching impact in terms of political and economic stability of the country.

Firstly, he said, Pakistan is witnessing a momentous institutional and democratic consolidation. Secondly, there is a desire in Pakistan to seek peace, stability and normalization of relations in the region.

Thirdly, Pakistan is keen to build on the positive momentum in terms of our relations with the United States.

The new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has reiterated its commitment to fostering good relations with the United States and sees promise in bilateral relations.

In her remarks, Ambassador Robin Raphel touched on efforts the U.S. administration is making with regard to encouraging trade and economic ties between the two countries.