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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Foreign investment in Pakistan: boon or bane?

In the last couple of days, Pakistan has witnessed an increase in foreign investment. Many local companies were acquired by foreign multinationals. Dawlance, Pakistan’s white goods manufacturer was acquired by Turkish group Arçelik . Furthermore, in the same week a Dutch based dairy cooperative FrieslandCampina acquired stakes in Engro for around $460 million.

This shows that international investors are viewing Pakistan as a growing market. Its huge population provides huge consumer base. The rise in middle class along with young population makes it attractive location for investment.  Many European countries are having population as much as Pakistan has graduates.

But is there any benefit to the nation of these huge investments from multinationals. In a nutshell we would say yes. But on a deep analysis we would say it is hard to say anything precise unless we take into account other factors.

Let us assume that Turkish group would enhance the quality of the products, manufactured by Dawlance, and would make them attractive to export markets. Definitely, in this case it would be good for Pakistan. Multinational companies have huge research and development departments with billions of dollars in budget which helps them in developing new and better products. Small companies like local ones cannot expend that much on research and development. Furthermore, small companies have issues with protecting patent rights. Hence, from this particular angle it is good that foreign companies are making inroads into Pakistani market.

With better quality and increased foreign clients’ satisfaction, country would be able to earn foreign exchange. This would also help Pakistan to move from exporter of low-tech to exporter of high-tech products.

The ability of multinationals to get a better deal from Govt. in matters of tax rebates is another thing to ponder. In countries like Pakistan, Govt. rules are more favorable to foreign big investors rather than local small investors. The exemption of duties and taxes extended to Chinese companies working on CPEC is one such example.

Exemptions in taxes make it more likely for these companies to earn heavy profits and pay high salaries to its employee. This would mean more and high paying jobs for locals as well as better employee retention for the multinational companies.

But there are more cases in which these companies hire foreign people than local ones. This would mean snatching jobs which could be provided by local companies to local people. Moreover, huge portion of profit earned, through getting tax rebates, by these companies is repatriated back to their country of origin.

Thus foreign investment is good for host country if it leads to transfer of technology; increase in exports, provides employment to local ones, pays taxes and duties to host country Govt. and improves quality of manufactured goods.

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