America’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are trying to invest in Pakistan, giving entrepreneurs here an opportunity to launch joint ventures with them, reveals Stephen P Knode, Commercial Counsellor of the United States.
“It will not only provide Pakistan entrepreneurs new technology and capital, but will also open new avenues for export of their products,” he said.
Trade between Pakistan and America was increasing at a steady pace and exports from the latter stood at $2.1 billion in 2016 while its shipments in the first five months of current calendar year were worth $1.3 billion, Knode said during a meeting with business community at the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) on Thursday
He emphasised that the US was trying its best to promote bilateral trade under its commercial diplomacy.
“It is in this respect that offices of the commercial counsellor have been shifted from Islamabad to Karachi, which is the main hub of business and industrial activities followed by Faisalabad that contributes 20% to the national gross domestic product,” he said.
Knode pointed out that the US commercial service department had stepped up efforts to guide and facilitate new investors.
Over the past five years, the USA-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference was being regularly organised. Last year, the conference was held in New York while in 2015 it was organised in Islamabad.
“This year, we expect to arrange it once again in Pakistan,” he said, adding it was for the first time many Pakistani companies had opened their offices and outlets in the US and they were being fully supported by the US commercial service department.
Responding to a question about the challenges faced by American companies in Pakistan, he said these were the same as experienced by Pakistan investors, which included energy shortage, labour and security challenges.
He disclosed that both countries would exchange at least 20 trade delegations this year, which would enhance understanding and interaction between businessmen of the two sides. Stephen said he would remain in touch with federal and provincial governments and municipal institutions to facilitate the new investors. Steps were also being taken to provide greater access for Pakistan products in the US markets.
He said Pizza Hut outlets in Pakistan were being increased from 75 to 150 and at the same time asked Pakistan investors to exploit the investment opportunities available in America as the US commercial service department would facilitate them.
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FCCI Acting President Rana Sikandar-e-Azam pointed out that in fiscal year 2016 bilateral trade stood at $5.72 billion, which was in favour of Pakistan. Pakistan exported $3.62 billion worth of goods while US exports were worth $2.10 billion.
He was of the view that global recession was affecting Pakistan’s ability to increase exports and investment inflows, hence the US should consider cutting tariffs on Pakistan textiles, which would enable it to compete with the developing countries that benefitted from the US tariff-reducing trade preference programmes.