LAHORE: As Pakistan struggles to sustain its depleting foreign reserves, on Thursday global consumer brand Unilever and Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell announced investments worth £100 million in Pakistan in an effort to boost trade links between Commonwealth countries.
The new investments were announced as Pakistan and Nigeria joined 53 nations in London for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), with the benefits of intra-Commonwealth trade high on the agenda, according to the press release issued on Thursday by the British government.
The statement said that global consumer brand Unilever will invest £86 million in new manufacturing capacity at its four factories in Pakistan. Meanwhile, Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell will explore setting up 100 new fuelling stations along the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) route, with an estimated investment of £13 million by 2020.
The statement added, that this expansion in Shell’s network will allow trucks carrying goods between the countries to refuel, resulting in increased trade.
Meanwhile, both the companies have acknowledged Pakistan’s high potential for long-term, sustainable growth, highlighting the increasing uptake of consumer goods products across the country.
While talking to Pakistan Today, Pak-Kuwait Investments Assistant Vice President Adnan Sheikh said, “Pakistan’s consumer sector is growing at around 15 per cent annually, much higher than other developing countries in the region,” he added, “With cuts in salary tax in the upcoming budget, consumers would have more purchasing power translating into more consumption of petrol and consumer goods etc.”
He further went on to say that Pakistan is attracting foreign investment because of CPEC and this announcement by Shell and Unilever is a testament to that.
It is pertinent to mention that these investments are part of UK’s effort to boost trade links and drive prosperity and growth among Commonwealth members. Moreover, as part of this initiative, British energy firm Low Energy Designs Limited UK also announced ‘Light up Lagos’, a £38 million investment to deliver 40,000 low energy LED streetlights in the Nigerian capital over the next four years.
Moreover, Minister for Commerce Pervaiz Malik and UK Trade Minister Greg Hands along with British Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Pakistan Member Parliament Rehman Chishti also met in London and welcomed the investment into fuel stations and manufacturing sector, which will boost jobs and economic development in Pakistan.
Greg Hands in a statement said, “As the British prime minister has made clear, the Commonwealth has a unique opportunity to boost its trade links and drive prosperity and growth among its members.”
He also reiterated UK’s ambition to continue its preferential trade terms with Pakistan, supporting economic development, after it leaves the EU, as UK plans continue the terms of the GSP+ scheme which offers low tariff access to the EU.
Greg Hands visited Pakistan in September last year where the two countries confirmed their ambition to increase bilateral trade. Currently, the UK is Pakistan’s biggest trade partner in the EU, with UK exports up over 13 per cent in 2016, and 2 per cent of all Britons having roots Pakistan, the statement added.