29 June 2010
US entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are being wooed to invest in Pakistan. And the person doing the hard sell for Pakistan is the US ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson. According to a report published recently in The Boston Globe, ambassador Patterson has made it her mission to persuade American businesses to view the South Asian country, not as a haven for al-Qaeda militants, but as a “vast untapped market capable of delivering double-digit rates of return.”
Patterson advocated that Pakistan is a land ripe with chances to make a profit, despite a travel advisory put out by her own agency.
Just as the State department is gearing up to spend $7.5 billion in aid to Pakistan over the next five years, US officials are already predicting that the money will not be enough to solve the country’s woes in health, education, energy and water, noted the Boston Globe reporter Farah Stockman.
At a dinner in Cambridge attended by 70 people, Patterson said, “$7.5 billion is not chump change”, but she stressed, “the real solution is private sector involvement.” The US State department is now actively trying to sell the idea of investing in Pakistan to Americans. The US officials have hired Thatcher & Co, a New York strategic communications firm, which has created a brochure listing all that Pakistan has going for it.
The brochure says, “it’s the world’s sixth-most populous country, with 180 million potential customers. It is English-speaking, democratic and has a market-driven economy. More than 200 international companies are present and succeeding. There’s room for more.”
Senior officials of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a US agency that encourages emerging markets investment, have made a flurry of trips to Pakistan over the past year to talk about how changes to regulations would attract American businesses.
“Historically, all the way back to the Marshall Plan, we know that foreign direct investment helps not only the countries but it substantially helps US interests, said Rod Morris, OPIC’s vice president of insurance arguing that giving people jobs would help defeat extremist tendencies.