‘Doing business in Pakistan is 25% cheaper than China’

By Kazim Alam, The Express Tribune

KARACHI: Edward Hertzman, director of business development at Synergies Worldwide, a global apparel sourcing company, said on Thursday doing business in Pakistan cost 25 per cent less than doing business in China, adding it was about 15 per cent cheaper than India and Bangladesh.

Participating in the discussions held under the working group on textiles at the Multilateral Investment and Trade Conference, 2011, he said that although strikes and instability affected production, Pakistan offered the lowest cost alternative in the region.

Addressing the conference, newly appointed State Bank Governor Yaseen Anwar said Pakistan had made great progress in the past three years in increasing foreign exchange reserves and remittances while reducing the current account deficit.

He said there was huge investment potential in small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) and housing and agriculture sectors. Terming them “engines of growth,” Anwar said Pakistan needed to develop its capital market to promote investment in the three sectors.

He said a Pakistani cow produced 1,000 litres of milk a year on average. “However, the average yearly milk production of a cow in the United States is 10,000 litres.” He said Pakistan should also use modern ways to enhance milk production.

Anwar said Pakistan topped the microfinance regulatory framework ranking by The Economist. He said the State Bank had taken measures to promote branchless banking in Pakistan to help those people who couldn’t afford conventional banking.

“Multinational companies (MNCs) operating in the country have never faced any problem in repatriating their profits,” Anwar said, adding that even during the bad financial period in the late 1990s, MNCs easily repatriated their profits.

Nestle Pakistan Managing Director James Donald said the company had consistently doubled its turnover every three years during the two decades of its operations in Pakistan. He said he was “bowled over” by the work ethic of Pakistanis. “I’ve been with Nestle for 40 years. But nowhere have I witnessed such a strong work ethic.”

Donald said Nestle operated the world’s largest milk factory in Pakistan, whose performance standards were used as global benchmarks. He said the share of packaged milk in Pakistan’s milk industry was only 10 to 15 per cent.

“The sale of packaged goods is directly proportional to the rise in per-capita GDP, which means the potential for growth in this sector is astronomical,” he said.

Delegates from Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, United States and United Kingdom participated in the conference.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 21, 2011.

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