Holding their breath: Pakistani investors in Bangladesh facing uncertainty

Businessmen keep an eye on situation to determine fate of investment.


Arshad Shaheen/irshad Ansari December 19, 2013
$2b is the amount Pakistanis invested in the textile, leather and garment sector of Bangladesh. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Billions of dollars of investment made by more than 10,000 Pakistanis in Bangladesh is facing uncertainty in the wake of tense situation there after Dhaka’s decision to hang Abdul Qader Molla and anti-Pakistan statements made by Prime Minister Hasina Wajid.

Experts monitoring the situation, however, say although the situation poses some risk of loss to the Pakistani investors, it will ultimately benefit the overall economy of Pakistan. They said the situation, if prolonged, on the one hand will discourage further Pakistani investment in Bangladesh, and on the other hand encourage Pakistani investors to come back home to cash in on the benefits to be offered by the newly acquired GSP plus status from the EU.

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The ministry of commerce has not received any complaints so far about difficulties faced by Pakistani investors in Bangladesh.

The experts say the situation is not likely to continue for long. Hasina Wajid has created the situation to use it as an election card and normalcy will return after the elections are over.

Former finance minister Dr Salman Shah also agreed that the situation can have impact on the Pakistani economy but only for a brief period, as it seems to be part of the election campaign in Bangladesh.

He said her statements have created concerns among the Pakistani community there, and if the hatred spreads, Pakistani investors can come back home.

Former consultant of the Ministry of Finance, Saqib Sheerani, said the situation for Pakistanis in Bangladesh was tense but so far no Pakistanis working there have reported any incident of targeting them. “Pakistanis there are concerned, but they have not been affected yet.”

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Sheerani said strikes in Bangladesh are affecting the industry’s production at an unprecedented scale. According to official statistics, Pakistanis have taken about $500 million abroad, a big chunk of which is in Bangladesh because of many concessions there.

Another positive aspect of the low production of the industry in Bangladesh, Sheerani says, is that the demand for Pakistani products in the international market can grow. Pakistan may use this situation to increase its exports, he remarked.

Former vice-president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Suhail Altaf, said Pakistanis have invested $2 billion in Bangladesh in the textile, leather and garments sector. He said although they are facing uncertainty and have an alternative now that Pakistan has become more attractive after the GSP plus status, bringing back the investment will not be possible in a short period.

He said if the situation remained the same and there are threats to the lives and property of Pakistani investors, the investment could return.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2013.

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COMMENTS (4)

Raheel | 7 years ago | Reply

Run for your money before they burn your businesses and kill you like they did with non Bengalis after December 16, 1971

M. Omer farooq | 7 years ago | Reply

Bad for Pakistani investors in Bangladesh and Bangladesh itself, not necessarily for Pakistan depending on details and how it all plays out. You scare away foreign investment from your country it can't be good for you.

Then again had we provided them with a comfortable investment climate back here in Pakistan itself, they wouldn't have had a need to go to Bangladesh anyway.

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