Several French companies are willing to invest in Pakistan in dairy and livestock, energy and agriculture, textile and artificial intelligence sectors but uncertain security situation, fast changing taxation and fiscal policies and difficult business environment are the stumbling blocks that prevent them in doing so.
President of France-Pakistan Business Council of MEDEF International Thierry Pflimlin said this during a frank and candid interaction with the visiting team of the Pakistani media persons at the MEDEF International.
Deputy CEO of MEDEF International Géraldine Lemble was also present on the occasion.
Pakistani journalists asked both of them how business ties between Pakistan and France could enhance and why the French companies’ trade with Pakistan was less than even that of Bangladesh.
Thierry Pflimlin who has been visiting Pakistan since 1987 and facilitating the French business companies visit Pakistan and meet their counterparts in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad—the golden triangle of business in his own words—to develop better business climate said frequent changes in taxation laws was something that irritated investors and in case of Pakistan sometimes they feel lost when it comes to taxation from one province to the other.
Pakistan he said was overshadowed by its mighty neighbour in the east and needed to make extraordinary efforts to better business climate by addressing fundamental issues that are of great concern to any business intending its operation in the country.
Besides security and fluctuation in taxation laws, inflation and poor infrastructure like electricity supply and provision of essential services were other areas Pakistan needed to work extensively to attract international businesses. Currently, French investment in Pakistan is around 1 billion Euros, which is far from where it should be, he said. He said Pakistan was little known in France and most of the Frenchmen thought of the country faced with complex security challenges etc. However, once we take them to Pakistan they are completely changed and their view for Pakistan is that of a country with great potential in tourism, textile, energy and other sectors. “I always describe to my business friends as a country where early bird is destined to catch the worm,” said Pflimlin.
He said currently there were around 50 French companies doing business in Pakistan with majority of them using Dubai as their back offices.
Pflimlin said infrastructure development, oil and gas, food processing, milk and milk processing, mining and railways have been identified as prospective areas for future cooperation and in coming days business delegations from France would visit Pakistan to hold discussions with their counterparts there.