CHICAGO: “Pakistan’s Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) will act as a single window to facilitate investors, establish cooperation between all Government Ministries and Departments, and fast-track project development,” said Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States.
“The core objectives of the SIFC include revitalization of our economy, integrating it with international capital markets, and ensuring steadiness and continuity of policies by adopting best practices and providing salutary investment milieu,” he said.
The Ambassador identified five areas ripe for investment in Pakistan – IT, energy, agriculture, mining and defence production.
“The SIFC will shorten lengthy business processes, develop a whole of the government approach and tap Pakistan’s potential in key sectors of information technology, energy, mining, agriculture and defence production by generating and attracting foreign direct investment,” he continued.
Ambassador Masood Khan made these remarks in his keynote address during a day-long “Future of Everything Summit” organized by OPEN Chicago today.
Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN) Chicago is a not-for-profit association dedicated to the promotion of entrepreneurship and professional excellence within diaspora communities in Chicagoland and the Midwest. Its membership includes professionals, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, scientists, social leaders, academics, and students. The one-day summit aims to explore how emerging technologies, social and economic trends, and environmental challenges transform industries and create new opportunities.
Masood Khan said Pakistan and the United States had a strong strategic and economic ties for the past 76 years. This partnership, he said, continues and “we foresee brighter prospects for its growth.”
He said that the two sides have recalibrated and rejuvenated their relationship by emphasizing equally the security and non-security dimensions.
In the non-security realm, he said, the two sides were enhancing the space for economic partnership encompassing trade, investment, energy, climate change, health-care, education, agriculture, technology and people to people exchanges.
“This is an ideal time to invest in Pakistan and to promote Pakistan’s products and services in the United States,” said Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States.
“All fundamental elements are in place for Pakistan to grow,” he continued.
Highlighting the potential of the country, especially its vantage position to serve as trade and business corridor, the Ambassador said that that “Pakistan is part of a new business ecosystem that is called MENAP (Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan) by venture capitalists. The population of this region is 600 million, out of which 230 million are Pakistanis,” Masood Khan said.
“We are also part of another overlapping ecosystem of Central and West Asia,” he continued.
Noting the availability of a robust communication and data infrastructure with high-speed internet to support growing gig-economy and human capital, the Ambassador highlighted that there was exponential growth in tech startups of Pakistan during past 4-5 years.
“In 2018 the venture capital funding for Pakistani startups was merely $10 million a year. Today it should be more than $1 billion year. Our IT exports are $3 billion, he said.
“We also have one of the fastest growing market of free-lancers and e-commerce,” he told the gathering.
He thanked the US government for supporting country’s efforts to increase collaboration between US investors and Pakistani firms.
“Recently, a memorandum of understanding for investment of $40 million was signed between USAID and Pakistani-American led entity in the Silicon Valley. This is just the beginning. The US government recognizes Pakistan as a big and attractive market for investors in the IT sector,” he said.
On this occasion the Ambassador also highlighted investment opportunities in various sectors of economy including diversification of its energy mix, mineral resources and earth metals and agriculture sector especially towards increasing yields of agri-products, corporate farming, dairy farms and feedlots. He also recounted various incentives that are being offered to the business community under investors-friendly regime.
“Pakistan is rich in many minerals, especially in cooper, gold, lead, zinc, iron ore, coal, lithium, rare earth, bastnaesite, aluminum, chromite and nickel. Precious and semiprecious stones include ruby, emerald, topaz, tourmaline, quartz, peridot and aquamarine,” he said.
He said that Barrick Gold was already aiming to initially extract 170,000 tons of copper and 300,000 ounces of gold every year.
“Pakistan has the expertise for manufacturing semiconductor chips for various electronic devices but does not have the resources. It has substantial lithium reserves, a key ingredient for battery production that would contribute to future sustainable energy solutions,” he said.
“We urge the American sovereign wealth funds and investors in general to invest in these projects in Pakistan – IT, energy, mining and agriculture – for big wins,” he said.
Expressing optimism that abundant capital was expected to come to Pakistan from Gulf’s public entities, Masood Khan said that US private sector could partner with those entities or they could take their own initiatives.
Noting that 1 million Pakistani-Americans were serving as a bridge between Pakistan and United States, the Ambassador reiterated his call to the expatriates to have faith in Pakistan.
“Invest in Pakistan and invest in the future of Pakistan and Pakistan-US relations,” he said.
“Pakistan is going global beyond the region to MENAP, to Central and West Asia, to the United Kingdom and Europe, to China, most importantly to the United States. Join us, you are already there but scale up – that’s my appeal to you,” said the Ambassador. He thanked Mr. Mahmood Majeed and Mr. Aamir Chalisa for meticulously choreographing the events during the Summit and wished OPEN Chicago even more successes in its objectives and endeavors.