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Pakistan seeks UAE trade to lift economy

Pakistan faces uphill battle in attracting investment.

December 13, 2010 4:25 by

Pakistan needs increased investment and trade opportunities from the UAE to build the economy and help it become more independent from foreign aid, the chief minister of Punjab province said on Monday.

“We are not here to seek aid but rather trade,” Mohammed Shahbaz Sharif told a trade conference in Dubai. “It is investment, trade, joint ventures and modern technology that will empower us.”

Sharif, leading a delegation of 100 businessmen from Pakistan, said the troubled South Asian country seeks investment from the United Arab Emirates – its second largest trade and investment partner – in sectors including energy, agriculture, livestock, mining and telecommunications.

Representatives from the Punjab Board of Investment and Trade signed 11 initial agreements worth $1.3 billion with potential investors in the UAE at the event but said the nation is struggling with the perception that Pakistan is a risky investment due to corruption and mounting Islamic militancy.

Sharif conceded that the country faces an uphill battle in attracting foreign investment due to negative perceptions in the global market, adding that the nation has fallen behind India.

But he said the potential for growth is strong, given natural resources and agriculture. UAE companies could seek construction deals in Punjab during a slowdown at home, he said.

In November, sources told Reuters that Pakistan – a key U.S. ally – is cutting its development spending by almost half, amid worsening economic conditions and demands set out by the IMF as part of an $11 billion loan in 2008.

(Reporting by Shaheen Pasha; Editing by Firouz Sedarat)

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