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American investors want IPRs, taxes, image issues addressed

August 22, 2005. Dawn-The Internet Edition
Naween A. Mangi




Foreign direct investment has crept up in recent years but the increase has been slower than projected with international investors harbouring a whole range of concerns about doing business with Pakistan. The US Pakistan Business Council in Washington D.C, a group of major US investors, has been working with the Pakistan government in an effort to raise FDI. How do US investors, one of the largest in Pakistan, view the opportunities for investment? And what would they like to see change in government policy?

Dawn’s Naween A. Mangi spoke from New York to Ahmet Bozer, chairman of the US Pakistan Business Council.

IN 2004-05, foreign direct investment crossed the $1.5 billion level, up from $949 million in 2003-04. FDI from the U.S. rose from $238 million to $326 million in 2004-05, making American investment second in quantum only to funds from the UAE which poured $367.5 million.

Although in this past fiscal year, the government met the $1.5 billion target Islamabad had struggled with last year, FDI commitments still remain lower than expected given the improvements in macroeconomic indicators since 2001.

As one of Pakistan’s largest groups of investors, U.S.-based investors banded together in 2002 under the platform of the U.S.-Pakistan Business Council with a mandate to promote U.S.-origin FDI in Pakistan.

“We aim to create platforms where U.S. investors and potential investors have a change of dialogue with the Pakistan government,” Ahmet Bozer, chairman of the Council said in an interview to Dawn from his Istanbul office. “We play a bridge role and communicate the concerns of investors to the government in the hope of influencing policy making. It is very difficult to actually trigger specific investments but we believe that if this dialogue is sustained, people will become more aware of investment opportunities in Pakistan.”

The council has a total of 18 members including major companies like Bozer’s Coca cola which has invested $150 million in Pakistan, Pepsi, Citigroup, Motorolla, Merck, General Electric and Boeing. Smaller companies owned by entrepreneurs of Pakistani origin, such as Touchstone Corporation are also members of the council.



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