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  • European investors must take advantage of CPEC: Swiss envoy
    Mar 29, 2017

    ISLAMABAD: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) offers huge investment opportunities and European investors need to take advantage from opportunities and make investment in the game changer project.
    Speaking at a media briefing here on Tuesday, Swiss Ambassador to Pakistan Marc P George and President of Swiss Business Council Farhat Ali stated that the European investors must grab this opportunity. They said that the perception that this is a Pakistan-specific project has now started changing with foreign investors are viewing it beyond Pak-Chain and Regional project as it would provide connectivity to Europe.
    The Swiss ambassador said that he is a great advocate of Pakistan in his country as well as among European diplomats. He said this is good time to start discussing the project and how the Europe can benefit from it.
    Farhat Ali said that there are opportunities to European investors in energy, oil and gas as well as in construction, pharmaceutical and other sectors. He said that all fields are open for European investors. He said that CPEC would prepare Pakistan for economic betterment and despite security concerns, foreign investors, especially from European countries, are ready to invest in the CPEC.

    He maintained that there is considerable improvement in security perception and Swiss Business Council has been able to bring six small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from Switzerland to Pakistan and will bring six more in 2017. He said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will usher in economic and social development of Pakistan and the region.
    Farhat Ali further stated that European companies put together are the largest foreign direct investors in Pakistan, and for mutual benefits, there is a need for them to take advantage from this project. He stated, “It is a positive development that foreign investors are once again looking at Pakistan with interest.”
    He added that Swiss Business Council with the support of its partner, Switzerland Global Enterprise (SGE), has decided to take up the initiative and has successfully linked many Swiss and Pakistani small & medium enterprises through investments in joint ventures, technology transfer and business representation. Encouraged with this positive development in 2016, SBC & SGE have marked 2017 as the year to maximise Swiss companies’ footprints in Pakistan and vice versa, he added.
    The CPEC offers opportunities in infrastructure and energy projects in the 29 special economic zones being set up all over Pakistan. These SEZs provide opportunities of investment in industrial and commercial activities as well as supplies, contracting and services in power sector, oil and gas, mines and minerals, large industry, small and medium industry, healthcare sector, education, banking, hospitality industry, engineering, consultancy and construction services and others.

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  • Pact With Switzerland On double taxation
    Mar 22, 2017

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  • Great scope for better trade with Switzerland: CG
    Feb 09, 2017

    KARACHI: The Consul General of Switzerland in Karachi, Mr Philippe Crevoisier, has said that the investment and trade figures between the two countries were encouraging but were still low. This needed to be improved but this is not going to be an easy task.

    Speaking at a meeting the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), he said that although the potential for more trade exists, efforts must be made to improve the image of Pakistan in order in Switzerland to transform this situation into success.

    “In order to attract more Swiss business and investment in Karachi, we will have to concentrate on improving the perception about the security situation of Karachi and the overall image of Pakistan, which is of big importance,” he said.

    Philippe Crevoisier pointed out that Switzerland has been in Pakistan since its independence and many Swiss companies were successfully doing business here in Karachi. “We are being represented not only in Islamabad but also in Karachi which is a very good sign as many European countries were not present here. This clearly indicates that we actually see the potential and I am trying to understand how to transform this potential into a success story,” he added.

    Philippe Crevoisier said that Switzerland’s industry consists of 80 percent SMEs which were well-organized to quickly react to numerous markets and they were looking forward to enhancing their exports to new markets. But Pakistan was not on the priority list of these companies mainly due to the negative perception it conveys.

    He was convinced that the overall security situation was much better, compared what it used to be. Its improvement in the last few years was likely to encourage many Swiss companies to get into this market and look for opportunities.

    He said that Karachi has a huge potential for Swiss companies, and it is a good sign that many businessmen from Karachi were eager to do business with Switzerland.

    KCCI president Shamim Ahmed Firpo said that Karachi, which is the economic and financial hub of Pakistan, offers profitable investment opportunities and added facilities for investment and joint ventures to Swiss Investors.

    This city, which contributes more than 65 percent revenue to the national exchequer, is an attractive place for Swiss SMEs, which can earn maximum profits by exploring opportunities in Karachi.

    Commenting on Pakistan-Switzerland relations, he said the two countries have always enjoyed cordial, friendly and multi-faceted ties. It is heartening to note that Switzerland is ranked fifth in terms of foreign direct investment in Pakistan and was a reliable trading partner.

    He said that many Swiss companies operating in Pakistan are engaged in sectors including energy, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, agricultural solutions, catering, cigarette manufacturing, food, telecommunication, quality testing, machinery and construction material. The business community warmly welcomes this but many other important sectors also offer lucrative opportunities, and exploring opportunities in these sectors should be considered by Swiss companies.

    He noted that during FY2015-16, Pakistan exported goods worth $65 million to Switzerland, as against exports of $94 million during the same period in the preceding year, showing a decline of 31 percent, which needs attention. Imports from Switzerland increased by 13.5 percent, compared to $736 million, compared to $648 million a year earlier. The trade balance is therefore heavily tilted in favour of Switzerland, he added.

    He was of the view that potential exists for Swiss businessmen to invest in Pakistan on 100 percent equity basis or as joint ventures with local industries. Pakistan can greatly benefit from Swiss expertise in energy, mining and agriculture, as well as the equity market. The possibility of cooperation also exists in supply of raw materials and finished products for fertilizers, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals, he added.

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  • Pakistan is ideal for investment, PM tells entrepreneurs
    Jan 20, 2017

    DAVOS: Pakistan is on the track of sustainable growth and is “ready to do business with the world”, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on late Wednesday.

    In his address to leading businessmen at a dinner hosted by Abraaj Group on the sidelines of the 47th World Economic Forum (WEF), he said, “Offering attractive investment policies, Pakistan is a destination that no global player can miss. I invite you to take benefit from the economic revival of Pakistan and enjoy the first mover’s advantage.”

    Stressing on the need for collaboration and cooperation, he said, “Without peace and stability, development remains an elusive dream.”

    He mentioned that Pakistan’s Vision 2025 served as a comprehensive strategy for achieving sustainable growth and mapped the country to join the top 25 economies in the world leading to Upper Middle Income country status by 2025.

    He said the economy was targeted to grow over 8 per cent between 2018 and 2025 while maintaining single digit inflation.

    The PM told the businessmen there was no minimum requirement for the amount of foreign equity, investment or upper limit on the share of foreign equity allowed except in the airline, banking, agriculture and media sectors and foreign companies were allowed to repatriate 100 per cent profits.

    The prime minister highlighted that Pakistan was the fourth largest milk producing country with third largest livestock population in the world.

    The recent decision of Dutch leaders to invest $460 million in Pakistan’s food and dairy sector is a testament of our potential, he stressed.

    He said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a key regional initiative for connectivity and shared prosperity of nations.

    Investors at the event spoke highly of Pakistan’s successful economic policies.

    Managing Partner of Abraaj Group Mustafa al Wadood said his company had invested over $700m in financial, consumer and energy sectors.

    Michael Renee of McKinsey and Company praised Pakistan’s stable economic policies and said improved security was now a big attraction for foreign investors.

    Citibank Vice President Jay Collins said his bank was proud to be amongst the top banks serving Pakistan’s public and private sector. He said the bank raised $2.5bn worth of strategic transactions for Pakistan and the foreign companies.

    Nitin Paranjpe, president of Unilever’s Home Care business, said his company has built a large business base in Pakistan and will continue with its commitment.

    Arif Naqvi, CEO of Abraaj Group said Pakistan was a country that was on the move and offered fantastic potential.

    Pakistan, Norway to focus on trade

    Meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on the sidelines of WEF, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan greatly valued its relations with Norway.

    He apprised the Norwegian premier of his government’s focus on trade and economic cooperation, rather than aid. The Norwegian premier appreciated Pakistan’s economic revival.

    On the occasion, PM Sharif extended an invitation to the Norwegian premier to visit Pakistan.

    Incentives for investors

    Pakistan has devised a comprehensive plan to create an investment friendly environment and is liberalising its policies to welcome foreign entrepreneurs, PM Sharif said on Thursday.

    He was talking to heads of top ranking companies at a roundtable on the sidelines of WEF.

    “We offer incentives to attract new capital inflows, including tax exemptions, tariff reductions, infrastructure, and investor facilitation services,” the prime minister said.

    The chief executive officers present at the roundtable included Japan Bank for International Cooperation’s CEO and Executive Managing Director Tadashi Maeda, Ingredion Incorporated USA’s CEO and Chairman Ilele Gordon, Koc Holding Turkey’s CEO Levent Cakiroglu,

    Telenor Group’s President and CEO Sigve Brekke, Nestle Asia’s Executive Vice President Wan Ling Novartis AG’s Head Public Affairs Petra Lox, Swiss Re Management Ltd’s Global Partnerships Chairman Martyn Parker.

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  • Raheel Sharif at Davos
    Jan 20, 2017

    From Ikram Sehgal

    DAVOS: The PAKISTAN BREAKFAST in Davos during the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meetings since 2002 is now known as the traditional PAKISTAN BREAKFAST. The President of Pakistan, the Prime Minister or a prominent Pakistani personality is usually the Chief Guest. Graced by Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif in 2016, Arif Naqvi of Abraaj, hosted a well-attended dinner instead with good speakers and tremendous Pakistani food on Wednesday 18 Jan evening.

    Gen Raheel Sharif (retd) was the PATH FINDER chief guest the next morning. He focused on how the security situation was controlled with enormous sacrifices by both Pakistani soldiers and civilians. This allowed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to become an economically feasible reality, a game-changer for Pakistan and for the region. The audience joined the panelists in vocally acclaiming the former Army Chief’s steely campaign against terrorism and the unique relationship he has with the people of Pakistan. Within the Congress Centre he was stopped repeatedly by the elite wanting to shake his hands.

    Among the guests at the PAKISTAN BREAKFAST were Henry Ross Perot Jr, Chairman of the Perot Companies, Dr Urs Lustenberger, President of the Executive Board, Swiss-Asian Chambers of Commerce, Switzerland, Daisy Guo Xiaoqian, Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer, China, HH Shaikh Salman Al Khalifa, Honorary Chairman, The Bahrain Petroleum Co,. Elizabeth G Weymouth, Senior Associate Editor, The Washington Post, Jerry Torres Chief Executive Officer, Torres AES, Francis Matthew from Gulf News and a host of others, more than 200 packed into the SALON ATLANTIS (Room for 150 only) of the STEIGENBERGER BELVEDERE at 7 am in the morning. From Pakistan Hussain Dawood, Group Chairman, Dawood Hercules Corporation Ltd, M. Javed Akhai Chairman Martin Dow Ltd, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, Faisal Basheer CEO UBL Switzerland AG, etc.

    Raheel Sharif had a number of high profile security-related interactive sessions in Davos, ‘The Global Security Context’ was moderated by Robin Niblett Director of Chatham House with Victor L. L. Chu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, First Eastern Investment Group, Hong Kong SAR, Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia. Ursula von der Leyen, Federal Minister of Defence of Germany and George Yeo, Visiting Scholar, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore as Panelists. Revolving around the noteworthy changes and emerging trends reshaping the international security agenda, dimensions addressed were (1) Recalibration of US security priorities; (2) Geostrategic shifts; and (3) Future conflict domains. Gen Sharif’s next session entitled “Terrorism in the Digital Age” was moderated by Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford, United Kingdom. Gen Raheel Sharif was joined by Jean-Paul Laborde, Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director, Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, United Nations, New York, Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman and Rob Wainwright, Director, Europol (European Police Office), The Hague. Pakistan’s successful fight against terrorism was repeatedly acclaimed by all the panelists, most questions from the audience were directed at Raheel Sharif.

    Shekhar Gupta, formerly of Indian Express, asked the former COAS pointedly the Indian narrative about how Pakistan could kill “snakes” in the front yard while harbouring them in the backyard, Raheel Sharif said the Army did not differentiate between killing snakes, whatever hue and colour they were and wherever they were, including “those in the adjoining region”. He said non-state actors (NSAs) play a role in accelerating tensions between nations, especially neighbours. Any spectacular attack with linkages to one country can cause huge problems. It is important to resolve the core issues of Kashmir and Palestine.

    The former COAS said that terrorism was a dangerous phenomenon as terrorists can morph and mutate quickly. Bound by protocols, human rights and diplomatic issues we lack cohesive measures while terrorists recognize no boundaries and their attacks are well planned. They now have proxies where small groups carry out suicide bombings, etc on the bidding of larger groups. As counter measures we must have comprehensive response against financers, abettors and sympathizers. Intelligence sharing was the key to success with quick response initiated on actionable intelligence. Leading nations must develop protocols, counter-narrative and counter-measures, UNHCR Resolution 1373 clearly outlines responsibility of all nations as it is a common obligation i.e. prevent movement of terrorists, early warning to other states, deny safe havens to those who finance, plan or cooperate with them.

    Gen Raheel elucidated some steps that can be taken, viz. (1) educate youth, radicals to be de-radicalized and taught skills to become member of society, (2) develop programs to go side by side with kinetic programme, (3) punish hardcore terrorists who are beyond de-radicalization, (4) follow up after every violent incident instead of waiting for the next one and (5) the free world must go on a “surge” to fight terrorism on all fronts and dimensions. He said that terrorism in the digital age has software and hardware part, the developed world lacks the software to deter terrorists i.e. developing global norms by consensus and finding acceptable political solutions acceptable to all parties.

    Gen Raheel said that he saw more decentralization as “we have not been able to control the spread, ideological or kinetic” as hardcore terrorists returning to their home countries can act as breeding grounds. The cyber threat is not to be seen as ‘one size fit all’ because developing countries rely less on cyber technology, as opposed to the developed ones, however their military infrastructure, banking sector, air travel, etc are critical infrastructure and at risk. In the future educated persons will pose bigger challenge than uneducated derailed suicide bombers. Crackdown on financiers and facilitators is key to success alongwith religious counter narrative. While technological advancements have created new vulnerabilities for the States and new opportunities for non-state actors (NSAs), the technologically advanced countries have greater capability of promoting and protecting their interests as compared to the developing world.

    Gen Raheel was impressive in Davos, he exuded confidence and a charisma not felt by Pakistanis at Davos for a long time. His presence in Davos gave out a strong message about Pakistan’s positive image and stance on terrorism. Not being privy to the subject matter of the PM’s bilateral meetings, one cannot comment on them. The former COAS emphasized that his successor Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, would maintain the momentum against terrorism, he was confident he would vastly improve upon it. Davos-ians are a hard-bitten cynical lot, certainly not naïve or gullible so their spontaneous applause was extremely satisfying. Not supported by a vast delegation with full-fledged logistics support, Raheel Sharif with only one person accompanying him, did Pakistan and the Pakistan Army proud at Davos.

    (The writer is a defence and security analyst)

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