With Pakistan’s economy looking poised to hit the annual growth rate of seven per cent, Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) is keen to expand its footprint in the country.
The bank “is optimistic and excited to actively participate in this turnaround”, SCB Group Head Bill Winters said on Thursday in a media roundtable. He was flanked by SCB Regional CEO for Africa and Middle East Sunil Kaushal and bank’s Pakistan CEO Shazad Dada.
“I am glad to be here at this juncture when, unlike many other countries, there is positivity in the air. People are talking about investment and discussing projects under CPEC,” he said, referring to scepticism in the West over possible economic options.
“CPEC has opened up new vistas. With the strong brand presence in China and Pakistan, the SCB enjoys natural advantage for a proactive role in CPEC-induced activity,” he said, dismissing fears and reservations expressed regarding the Chinese vision of “One Belt, One Road”.
Commenting on the issue of lack of transparency in CPEC initiatives, he said, “Our dealings with our business partners are perfectly transparent and structured. The terms of engagement between countries are beyond our mandate,” he said.
He said the bank’s clients around the world, particularly in East Asia, signalled interest in Pakistan. “It might take some time, but foreign investors will enter Pakistan as the country embarks on journey to the future.”
Comparing the bank’s experience of dealing with Pakistani businessmen with others in the region, Mr Kaushal said they “are relatively domestic”.
“The quality of business class is a function of the size of an economy and scale of business,” he said.