It is often taken as a sign of prosperity and progress for a country when multinational corporations enter the market. If this is the case then Pakistan is well on the way to success.

At present the Pakistani consumer benefits from MNCs operating in the local market competing against local firms. Some of them such as Unilever Pakistan (formerly Lever Brothers Pakistan), have called Pakistan home since 1947. Other MNCs especially in telecom have come in over the last 15 years.

Despite the criticism leveled against them, even the local players acknowledge that the presence of MNCs is a benefit for the consumer. The Pakistani consumer is able to get access to the same level of technology, comfort, convenience as anyone else in the world. MNCs create much needed employment and create infrastructure- an MNC is required to have an infrastructure area of over 60,000 sq ft.

MNCs are operating in the country in a large variety of sectors most importantly: Automobile, Electronics, Banking, Telecommunication and IT, Food and beverages.  MNCs exist in the country in various forms, some have set up franchises, others operate through holding companies and some are fully incorporated in the country. Their presence leads to skill development.

Multinational companies or multinational corporations bring in essential Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and this helps the government cover for its own short falling.  The access to more goods and services may be causing materialism as some claim but it is also improving the standard of living of ordinary citizens.

The service sector and the banking sector are particularly dependent on MNCs as the local companies fail to provide an adequate service in most cases. In the area of pharmaceuticals there are mixed views as the MNCS are charging higher prices and rumors exist of the sale of medicines locally that have been banned in other parts of the world.

The meeting point of big business and government is another area of concern as was proved by the recent scandal in neighboring India –where a major company (local) the ruling government and a media outlet were found to be in cahoots . The animosity with India and talks of opening the market to Indian firms has frightened many local companies. These players already finding it hard to cope with the foreign multinationals will find themselves at the losing end if the Indian firms enter.

On the other hand a few local firms through their flourishing exports are well on the way to becoming MNCs abroad in their own right. The opening of Pakistan to MNCs and the prospect of free trade with India need to be viewed appropriately as the half glass full and half empty situation that they really are.

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