The American Business Council, that includes the Pakistan units of Coca-Cola Co. and Cisco Systems Inc., plans to invite 10 U.S. companies a year to invest in the South Asian nation and take advantage of rising consumer demand.
“Branded product penetration in Pakistan is so low that the potential for growth is immense,” Saad Amanullah Khan, president of the council, said in an interview in Karachi today. Up to 80 percent of American companies operating in Pakistan, especially technology and consumer goods companies, had a “good year” in 2011.
Pakistan needs to increase overseas investment to help meet an economic growth target of 4.3 percent in the year that began July 1. Foreign direct investment declined 50 percent to $813 million in the year ended June 30, according to the central bank.
The council plans to double its membership of U.S. companies from 63 in the next five years and increase the total investment to $1 billion from $663 million, said Khan, 51, who is also chief executive officer of Gillette Pakistan Ltd.
Pakistan agreed this month to end a seven-month ban on North Atlantic Treaty Organization trucks crossing its territory on the way to Afghanistan, easing tensions with the U.S., its biggest trading partner. The routes were reopened after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized for the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a November border strike by American helicopters.
Pakistan’s credit rating was lowered deeper into junk status by Moody’s Investors Service on July 13, which cited dwindling currency reserves and political instability. The $200 billion economy faces the fastest inflation in Asia, lingering power blackouts, an insurgency on the Afghan border and reduced aid flows.
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