Businessmen from Pakistan look to UAE for 'trade not aid'

The chief minister for Pakistan¿s Punjab province, is coming with 100 businessmen to try to spur investment in his country.

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ABU DHABI // Shahbaz Shareef, the chief minister for Pakistan's Punjab province, is visiting the UAE this week with about 100 businessmen to try to spur investment in his country.

Mr Shareef, who is also the chairman of the Punjab Board of Investment and Trade (PBIT), said: "I want to convey to our brothers and sisters here [in the UAE] that we want trade, not aid. I think this is where [the UAE] can be extremely helpful to us."

The delegation is the PBIT's first to talk to foreign investors.

Haji Muhammad Rafiq Giga, of Giga group, a company established in the UAE in 1956 by his father, said: "There are many opportunities that need to be groomed. Pakistan has land, but it requires expertise to double or triple its produce." Punjab's ample livestock, minerals and dairy represent "areas where Pakistan is naturally cut out to become potential partner with UAE investors", Mr Shareef added.

Foreign investment could help domestic needs, board officials said. Lack of resources often means many food industries don't operate efficiently.

The potential pay-offs are large as well, said Nadeem Babar, the chief executive of Orient Power Company and a member of the delegation. Although foreign investment has steered away from Paskitan because of security issues recently, those who stayed are reaping rewards.