International Risk Consultancy Sees Continued Political Stability in Pakistan
Coming on the heels of the Eurasia Group report is the International Monetary Fund (IMF) upward revision of Pakistan's GDP forecast to 5% for the current fiscal year 2016-17. Pakistan's ETF (PAK) is up about 15% this year, reflecting MSCI’s recent announcement that it will add the country to the MSCI Emerging Market index, according to Barron's, Wall Street Journal's sister publication.
In Eurasia Group's analysis of Pakistan, its South Asia specialist Christopher Cannell has written as follows:
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz party (PML-N) will remain in London until … the end of the month of Ramazan, recovering from heart surgery even as he faces fresh corruption allegations stemming from the Panama Papers. Yet while the mounting allegations will weaken Sharif’s political position at a time when he was not present to defend himself, he will continue to lead the PML-N and early elections are highly unlikely. …"
"The PML-N is likely to win the 2018 election with a reduced mandate … The contest to replace him will be complicated by corruption allegations against many main contenders within the PML-N, sparking worsening political instability after the election … Sharif’s … approval rating has experienced a non-negligible drop from 75% in October 2015 to 54% in June 2016, the only poll conducted after the leaks. However, Sharif’s political standing is grounded on the PML-N’s strength in parliament, the tacit support of the Army, and the $46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor – a set of infrastructure projects critical to Pakistan’s future economic performance—negotiated by Sharif and his PML-N. The PML-N remains the largest party in the lower house, and would not pass a motion of no-confidence in the PM, and it retains control of its Punjab heartland, the most populous area of Pakistan. …"
Expectation of political stability is drawing increasing foreign investment to Pakistan. Two multinational giants acquired 2 Pakistani companies in just the last week alone as part of their growth strategy to establish presence in Pakistan.
Dutch dairy giant FrieslandCampina acquired 51 % of Karachi-based Engro Foods Limited, the second largest dairy producer in Pakistan. In the same week, Turkey's Arcelik announced purchase of Dawlance, Pakistan's market-leading home appliance maker. Both cited opportunity for double-digit growth in the emerging market as the main reason for their acquisitions.
Smart money is starting to flow into Pakistan again as the world recognizes the country's new political stability and its tremendous economic potential as a growing emerging market. Investors and businesses are looking to profit from expanding Pakistani economy backed by growing middle class consumption and rising Chinese investments in energy and infrastructure.
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