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Afghanistan Seeks Malaysian Investments In Soft Drinks Sector
New Delhi, June 6, 2007 (Bernama): Afghanistan is inviting Malaysian investors to explore investment opportunities in the war-ravaged country, especially in the growing beverage industry.
Afghanistan International Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Prof Hamidullah Farooqi said the country's economic landscape is changing with archaic rules being replaced with new laws which are more investor friendly.
"There are some good opportunities for Malaysian investors; they should come and take a closer look at Afghanistan's potentials themselves," he told Bernama in New Delhi.
"The Malaysian development (process) can be a role model for Afghanistan and there is a lot of good faith and acceptance by our people and our nation towards the Malaysian people."
With the land-locked country's gross domestic product expected to grow at 11 to 12 percent this year against a growth of eight percent last year, the economic climate is conducive for foreign companies, he said.
Besides the construction of houses, highways, schools and water treatment plants, the other potential area where Malaysians companies could venture into is the multi-million ringgit soft drinks industry that still needs capital injection.
"The size of Afghanistan's beverage industry is US$150-200 million (US$1 = RM3.41). Recently we opened the 27th plant but it is still not enough to meet more than 60 percent of the local demand for soft drinks.
"We import goods and services worth about US$5.5 billion every year and all these are supposed to be produced within our country," said Hamidullah.
While he acknowledged that security remains an issue which had disrupted foreign investments in the past, he stressed that violence is restricted to some parts of the country only.
Investors' perception is changing and foreign funds have started to trickle into the economy now, he said.
"The violence is only in the south and southeast and it is not out of control. There is no tension in central and north Afghanistan, so most part of the country is still safe," pointed out Hamidullah.
The re-entry of Coke Cola, after a decade's lapse, with an investment worth US$25 million for its plant, German electronic giant Siemens' re-entry into Kabul and the US$300 million Afghan Cement Corp, largely funded by the country's own nationals living abroad, are testimony of investors' growing confidence, he said.
In addition, he said, 10 foreign banks have begun operating in Kabul and a leading international hotel chain is investing about US$80 million in the country.
The World Bank-backed Afghanistan Investment Guarantee Facility encourages foreign direct investment to the country by offering political risk insurance coverage of US$60 million, and is another proactive step to woo foreign money to rebuild the nation's economy.