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"The fifth most populous country in the world with 207 million inhabitants, Pakistan recorded an acceleration in its growth rate which stood at 5.2% between 2014 and 2018."
With a very dynamic demography (60% under 20 years old, 245 million inhabitants by 2030), Pakistan has already seen the emergence of a middle class of 25 million creditworthy consumers. Many sectors, some of which are already very dynamic (telecommunications and banking in particular), offer significant opportunities given the country's development needs: energy, water, waste management, transport, agrifood, consumer goods.
Several large-scale projects have also started thanks to the resumption of aid granted by donors and the CPEC (Sino-Pakistan Economic Corridor - 62 billion USD of investments with the aim of connecting China to the Arabian Sea, including USD 34 billion dedicated to the development of energy infrastructure).
Another major asset for the country is the transfer of expatriate workers (the number of which is estimated at 10 million). They cover 77% of the Pakistani trade deficit. The security situation is improving from year to year (-45% drop in civilian and military casualties during terrorist attacks in 2018 compared to 2017). The greater availability of electricity, after several years of shortage solves one of the biggest problems for the national industry. What is more, the Pakistani authorities have managed to maintain an attractive investment regime: full convertibility of the rupee, free repatriation of profits and dividends.
On a bilateral level, the threshold for trade between France and Pakistan rose to EUR 1.3 billion in 2018 (with a deficit of EUR 478 million to the detriment of France). Pakistan is France's second largest customer in South Asia. France mainly exports electric turbines, pharmaceuticals, dairy and cheese products. Not surprisingly, French imports from Pakistan are made up of ¾ of textile products.
French economic presence in Pakistan
Thirty French establishments were listed in Pakistan at the end of 2018. Present in most of the key sectors of the Pakistani economy, they represent a stock of FDI of 1.3 billion EUR, generate a turnover of 2.1 EUR bn and employ 5,000 people.
Advice for a company wishing to approach Pakistan
The price difference between European and Asian consumer goods penalizes the former. Unfair commercial practices (under-invoicing, smuggling from Dubai) require a lot of vigilance on the part of new entrants to the Pakistani market. French products have a good brand image in Pakistan. The price disadvantage compared to products from Southeast Asia can be largely outweighed by a reputation for quality.
For both consumer goods and capital goods, the presence of a reliable and efficient agent on site is necessary to position yourself on the Pakistani market.
For public contracts (infrastructure, railways, energy, hydrocarbons), regular monitoring of calls for tenders issued by state bodies is imperative.
Do not allow yourself to be influenced by the press and media for any decision relating to prospecting for opportunities in Pakistan. Rather, contact the French economic staff on site (Economic Service of the French Embassy).
Terrorism in Pakistan is limited to certain specific regions. The major Pakistani cities such as Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad are very secure. So you must have no hesitation to go to Pakistan.