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Trade with partner countries

Trade with partner countries

It is not the first time that trade delegations from various countries are visiting Pakistan and seeking to enhance business to business cooperation with their local counterparts. However, a significant improvement in the trade activities could not be achieved in any form other than that the visiting delegations leave the country with tall claims that they would avail the opportunities offered by Pakistan. Currently, various foreign delegates are in the country from Poland, Germany and Turkey to China, Hong Kong, Tunisia and Indonesia and are expressing serious desire to undertake joint ventures and exploring investment opportunities in Pakistan, but the time will tell the exact situation. So far, free trade agreements, which are signed with various countries, could not leave positive impression on the country’s economy. Rather, balance of trade is in favour of other countries to which such agreements are signed. It shows the fact how incapable are our policymakers and negotiators who almost always bring failures to their credits. Another significant failure is inability of the officials to convince the partner countries about burgeoning economic activities in Pakistan and liberal investment policies offered to foreign investors. The government could not even cover the shortage of electricity and improve law and order in industrial cities of the country, including Karachi.

So far, only China has emerged as the principal investor in Pakistan and all other friendly countries like the United States and Germany and ‘brotherly’ countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have done nothing but lip-service or made limited investment far less than their potential. The government also has failed to arrange business to business contacts with friendly and brotherly countries and could not sell the vast opportunities it offers to foreign investors in the country. No doubt there are huge investment opportunities for foreign businesspersons, investors and industrialists but there are other dozens of things to do to create friendly business climate in the country. Pakistan’s tax system is complex and cumbersome and this point has been raised on several occasions by international financial institutions, but despite all reforms and policies, the system could not be improved to the desired level. There is also lack of coordination between the business community and the official machinery within the country and there is urgent need to fill this gap. The foreign delegations are in the country and are consuming hundreds of man-hours and this exercise should not go waste at the end of the day.