Pakistan Downgraded to Frontier Market Status

Pakistan Downgraded to Frontier Market Status

Sohail Khan
2 min read

FTSE Russell Downgrades Pakistan to Frontier Market Status, Impacting Investment Flows

FTSE Russell has downgraded Pakistan from an emerging market to a frontier market status, effective September 23. This transition is anticipated to result in foreign fund outflows of approximately $40 million to $150 million. Despite this shift, Pakistan's KSE-100 index has experienced a 30% rise in dollar terms this year, attributed to $72 million in net foreign inflows and IMF support. The downgrade decision was driven by Pakistan's failure to meet the minimum securities count required for maintaining its emerging market status.

Despite Pakistan's prior loss of emerging-market status at MSCI Inc. in 2021 due to shrinking market size and liquidity, the KSE-100 has significantly outperformed numerous global peers over the past 12 months. The appealing valuations at four times forward earnings, combined with the anticipated IMF funding, are likely to sustain investor interest even in the face of potential passive selling pressures. The finance minister is anticipating a $6 billion IMF loan deal this month, which is expected to bring stability to the economy and lend support to the stock market.

Key Takeaways

  • FTSE Russell's downgrade of Pakistan to frontier market status could trigger foreign fund outflows ranging from $40 million to $150 million.
  • Pakistan's KSE-100 index has demonstrated a 30% increase year-to-date in dollar terms, supported by $72 million net foreign inflows and IMF assistance.
  • Attractive valuations at four times forward earnings and the expected IMF funding may facilitate sustained investor interest.
  • The downgrade may lead to the cessation of passive ownership in Pakistan until it satisfies the criteria for attaining emerging market status.
  • Despite the downgrade, optimism prevails among investors as they anticipate the stabilization of the economy through long-term IMF funding.


FTSE Russell's decision to reclassify Pakistan as a frontier market could have significant implications, potentially resulting in foreign fund outflows of $40 million to $150 million and affecting both local and international investors. However, the notable 30% rise of the KSE-100 index, bolstered by $72 million in net foreign inflows and IMF support, reflects the market's resilience. While the downgrade was driven by Pakistan's failure to meet emerging market criteria, the appealing valuations and anticipated IMF funding are expected to uphold investor interest. Short-term consequences may include potential passive selling, while the long-term stability relies on IMF loan agreements and economic reforms.

Did You Know?

  • FTSE Russell:
    • FTSE Russell is a prominent global index provider that manages a comprehensive range of indices for benchmarking markets and asset classes worldwide. The company's market classification decisions hold considerable influence over investment flows and market perceptions.
  • Frontier Market Status:
    • Frontier markets are categorized as less developed than emerging markets yet more advanced than the least developed markets. Countries with frontier market status typically exhibit smaller economies and lower liquidity compared to emerging markets, thereby impacting investor types and levels of foreign investment.
  • KSE-100 Index:
    • The KSE-100 Index serves as the primary stock market indicator for the Pakistan Stock Exchange, comprising the top 100 listed companies by full market capitalization. It serves as a crucial gauge for Pakistan's economic health and is closely monitored by investors and policymakers. The index's performance, particularly in the context of market classification changes and economic policies, reflects investor sentiment and economic stability.

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