The role of Pakistan Army in SIFC will help to bring foreign investments, reports Arab News

MediaThe role of Pakistan Army in SIFC will help to bring foreign...

Monitoring Desk: The presence of the Pakistan Army in the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and Land Information and Management System-Center of Excellence will address to mitigate insecurities raised by foreign investors in the past and will also work as a “sovereign guarantee” that the change of political governments in the future will not hamper national commitments granted to foreign investors, reports Arab News.

In the article, “Tides of change: Pakistan-GCC agricultural collaboration”, the writer hopes that Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states will invest in Pakistan for secure food security and agriculture projects as the situation in Ukraine is not viable and after the Ukraine-Russia conflict started. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE had been purchasing/ thinking of leasing arable lands in Ukraine for agriculture and livestock farming and considered in past Ukraine as their backyard food garden. Pakistan can be their first and foremost option.

   

The writer believes that the formation of SIFC will remove impediments because physical and financial securities demanded by foreign investors are now ensured by Pakistan’s military. Even before passing the SIFC bill, Pakistan offered GCC states to invest in Pakistan for transforming it into a global food basket but due to security concerns things did not move forward. Now all is set for offering investors to procure huge lands for agriculture farming, for establishing “value addition” factories for food processing, and for directly managing their food storages and supply chains through single window facilitation support.

Pakistan had been a food basket for GCC countries, predominantly for UAE and Saudi Arabia from the 80s till the late 90s. However, by the advent of the 21st century, Pakistan had already lost its status as a significant food provider to GCC states owing to several reasons including the lack of value addition and the incapability of meeting international food product safety standards set by UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar but Pakistan’s presence did not cease in the food market. In 2021, Pakistan exported just $1.63 million worth of vegetables to UAE. To export these edibles to the UAE, exporters must comply with food product safety regulations and standards, and all edible products being exported must be free from harmful chemicals, contaminants, and diseases and meet the UAE’s import requirements. Moreover, the food products must be packaged and labeled in accordance with the country’s regulations.

Pakistan is the nearest destination for gulf countries for edible export and lite ferries’ cargo reaches UAE from Karachi in just 30 to 35 hours. Wheat and rice are also major demands of the Gulf market and a report of the United States Department of Agriculture and Global Agriculture Information Networking released in December 2022, stated that Pakistani exporters maintained sales of 500,000 tons of rice to GCC states, but that wheat export was relatively insignificant.

There is no doubt that Pakistan has a comparative advantage in a number of agricultural commodities, but it has failed to exploit these gains to their fullest potential in overseas markets. Conversely, the situation will altogether change when GCC investors arrive in Pakistan for producing edibles through agriculture and livestock farming facilitation and processing and packaging of foods with international standards. This will not only help Gulf companies ensure their food security but will also provide opportunities for global exports from Pakistan.

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