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In the intricate dance of global economics, metaphors often serve as guiding lights, illuminating complex concepts with poetic simplicity. One such metaphor, “If you build a beautiful garden, the butterflies will come” offers a profound lens through which we can view the dynamics of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and economic development.

This metaphor is particularly resonant when applied to Pakistan, a nation striving to enhance its economic landscape to attract and retain foreign investments.

Shamshad urges OICCI to help boost FDI inflows

Historical data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) paints a vivid picture:

Global FDI experienced a decline of 12% in 2022, with developed economies facing a significant drop. However, developing countries, including Pakistan, saw varied impacts. Pakistan, with its strategic location and burgeoning market, has the potential to attract more FDI, yet it faces challenges similar to other developing nations in creating an environment conducive to sustained investment.

According to the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) data, Pakistan received $1.456 billion in FDI from July to June 2023, which is $480 million lower than the $1.936 billion received in the previous fiscal year (FY22).

Furthermore, FDI dropped by 58 percent year-on-year to $114 million in June 2023, compared to $271 million in June 2022. The data also shows that FDI inflows decreased by 21 percent to $2.13 billion, while outflows decreased by 11 percent to $676 million. These figures underscore the challenges Pakistan faces in maintaining consistent FDI inflows.

The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index provides empirical evidence of the relationship between a country’s business environment and its ability to attract and retain FDI. Countries like Rwanda and Georgia, which have made significant strides in their business-friendly reforms, have seen increased FDI and GDP growth.

Pakistan, aiming to follow a similar trajectory, has been working on improving its business climate. However, it must navigate unique challenges such as political stability, infrastructure needs, and regulatory reforms to truly harness the potential of FDI.

SAPM says steps being taken to boost FDI inflows

Clayton M. Christensen’s ‘Prosperity Paradox’ highlights the importance of the nature of investments and the strategies employed by recipient countries. Pakistan’s approach to attracting FDI should focus on sustainable, long-term growth rather than short-term gains. This means prioritising sectors that offer the most significant potential for economic impact and job creation, such as technology, renewable energy, and manufacturing.

The UNCTAD World Investment Report 2023 further emphasizes the challenges faced by developing countries in attracting sustainable investments. Pakistan, for instance, must address the cost of capital and infrastructural deficits to become more attractive for investments in key sectors like renewable energy.

The report’s proposal for a Global Action Compact for Investment in Sustainable Energy for All is particularly relevant for Pakistan, highlighting the need for national and international policy coordination, financing mechanisms, and sustainable finance markets.

Export of services, inward FDI flows: IT sector’s share likely to expand

Infrastructure, governance, and education form the bedrock of Pakistan’s economic garden. The country’s efforts in infrastructural development, particularly in energy and transport, and improvements in governance and education systems, will play a crucial role in attracting foreign investors.

However, the journey doesn’t end here. As the global economic landscape evolves, Pakistan must remain agile, adapting to shifts and recalibrating its strategies to ensure a bespoke approach that resonates with its unique socio-economic fabric.

Moreover, Pakistan’s geographical position, bordering the economic giants of China and India, offers a strategic advantage in attracting FDI.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, is a prime example of how infrastructure and connectivity projects can boost FDI. However, to maximize these investments, Pakistan needs to ensure that these projects are integrated into the broader economic framework, contributing to sustainable development and industrial growth.


In conclusion, as we stand at the crossroads of a new economic era, the garden-butterfly metaphor offers more than just poetic allure; it encapsulates a fundamental economic truth. As Pakistan navigates the complex landscape of global economics, the focus must shift from merely attracting butterflies to cultivating a garden that fosters growth, innovation, and sustainability.

For in the grand tapestry of global economics, it’s not the allure of the butterflies that matters, but the vitality of the gardens they choose to call home.

And as history has shown, gardens that are nurtured with care, foresight, and strategy not only attract but also sustain life, ensuring prosperity for generations to come.

The article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Recorder or its owners

Osama Rizvi

The writer is an international energy and economic analyst. He works at Primary Vision Network — a US-based market intelligence and consultancy firm


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KU Nov 01, 2023 05:14pm
Absolutely right and spot on suggestions. But tragedy and opportunity cost is our fate. Nothing will change as long as the heist-mafia is around. Please don't mention garden, we already have lots of flowers for fools.
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Ghareeb Awam Nov 02, 2023 05:40am
True but even if you build a garden, an overwhelmingly presence of predators and dragons would not allow the butterflies to survive. This is our perpetual predicament.
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Tariq Qurashi Nov 02, 2023 10:34am
The butterflies must plan to export some of their production and earn foreign exchange; otherwise the butterflies will turn into useless foreign exchange eating bugs.
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