Participants of a survey conducted by the American Business Council of Pakistan (ABC) — a group of overseas companies — are of the view that “significant apprehensions exist about the ease of operating business in the present and short-term future” in Pakistan and have raised concerns about the country’s international perception.

ABC shared the survey findings in a press release, stating that the participants’ concerns emphasised the “need for immediate government support and policies to facilitate the investment and expansion plans of American companies operating in Pakistan for the FY (fiscal year) 2023 and beyond”.

Sixty companies in ABC’s association participated in the annual survey, which was conducted to assess the current business environment in the country.

“The survey findings reveal that these companies have made significant contributions during the fiscal year 2021-2022,” the statement said, outlining these contributions as a “cumulative revenue of Rs847 billion, exports worth Rs81bn, a capital investment of Rs57bn in the L3Y and national exchequer amounting to Rs159bn”.

These companies also actively engaged in corporate social responsibility activities, contributing significantly — Rs1.6bn — to various social and community development initiatives, the statement said.

It added that “their commitment to making a positive impact in Pakistan goes beyond business operations”.

Future investment

According to the press release, 61 per cent of the companies expect a negative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the FY 2023 and 83pc have major concerns about operating business smoothly in this current short-term economic scenario.

“Ninety-four per cent of the companies, however, expect that the situation may turn around eventually and feel more optimistic about the long-term future but not the short-term,” it said, adding that “67 pc of the companies have plans for further investments and expansion in Pakistan in the FY 2023”.

Ease of doing business

The survey found that 48 pc of the respondents expressed concerns about a “drastic decline” in the ease of doing business in Pakistan.

“Cumbersome regulatory processes, bureaucratic hurdles and inconsistencies may be causing obstacles that hinder business operations and growth,” the ABC statement read.

International perception and business climate

Seventy-one per cent of the companies expressed concerns over Pakistan’s perception internationally.

“Seventy-nine per cent felt that the overall business climate has become worse, considering the current challenges faced by the country. They emphasised the importance of addressing these challenges and creating a favourable environment to attract more foreign investment,” the statement said, adding that considering these findings, ABC needs the support of the government to consider a set of recommendations.

These recommendations include streamlining regulatory processes, reducing bureaucracy, and enhancing efficiency to improve the ease of doing business.

“Facilitate a favourable business climate by addressing the concerns raised by American companies regarding Pakistan’s international perception,” the ABC statement read.

It further quoted ABC President Jamshed Safdar as saying: “We believe that addressing these key areas identified in the survey will create a more favourable business environment in Pakistan. Collaborative efforts between Pakistan and American companies can lead to increased investment, job creation, and economic prosperity for Pakistan.”

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