S’pore, Pakistan sign investment pact

SINGAPORE and Pakistan yesterday signed a long-term investment guarantee agreement to promote bilateral business and economic cooperation.

The pact was signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Trade and Industry Ministry, Mr Lam Chuan Leong, and Pakistan’s Secretary of the Industries Ministry, Mr Vaqar Rustam Bakhshi.

Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and his Pakistani counterpart, Ms Benazir Bhutto, witnessed the signing at the Istana.

Singapore has a few investment projects in Pakistan, mainly in the services sector. Pakistan is the Republic’s 40th largest trading partner with trade last year totalling about $570 million.

Ms Bhutto, who arrived on Tuesday for a three-day official visit, yesterday called on Singapore entrepreneurs to invest in Pakistan.

In a lunch-time speech to the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, she invited businessmen to take part in US$5 billion (S$7.1 billion) worth of large-scale projects in Pakistan.

These include power transmission, oil pipelines, oil terminals and railway tracks.

There were also investment opportunities in ports and shipping, she said, adding the government was upgrading two portsin Karachi and building a third port in Gawadar.

A list of 60 small and medium-sized projects had been given to the Economic Development Board for consideration, she said.

To attract more Singapore investments, Ms Bhutto said she had proposed to Mr Goh that a Pakistan business advisory council be established in the Republic.

She said Islamabad had set up an investment board as a “one-stop shop” to help foreign investors identify projects in Pakistan.

In her 15-minute speech to the 260 businessmen at the luncheon, she placed emphasis on Pakistan’s economic credentials.

“With deregulation, liberalisation and privatisation, Pakistan is an ideal place for investors seeking a good return for their investment.”

Pakistan had lifted earlier limits on foreign equity ownership, and now allows foreigners to own 100 per cent equity in any venture.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SM0CC) to promote bilateral trade.

SMCC president Jalil Haron said the chamber will be organising a trade visit to Pakistan soon in order to explore potential investments.

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