WASHINGTON: Pakistan has taken a number of steps to enhance the ease of doing business, Ambassador Masood Khan has told Pakistani-American businessmen in Los Angeles, California, urging them to become part of the country’s economic transformation.
“Pakistan is an ideal destination for US investors and businesses due to its unique geo-economic position and impressive demographic cohorts”, he said at a meeting with the Board of Directors of the Pakistan-American Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. The event was also attended by a select group of businessmen working in textile, banking, logistics, solar and Fintech sectors as well as healthcare professionals.
Speaking to the participants, the Pakistani envoy appreciated the work done by the Chamber to promote trade and investment ties between Pakistan and the US While bilateral trade between the two countries jumped from US$ 8.5 to 12 billion last year, there was potential to increase it further by enhancing economic cooperation in targeted areas such as technology, IT tourism, extractive industry, oil and gas exploration, manufacturing, healthcare and agriculture.
The Ambassador also underscored the need for growing trade ties with the State of California, which has a GDP of US$ 3.5 trillion. Pakistan and California were important trade partners. In the past year, Pakistan’s exports to California were US$ 457 million, whereas Pakistan’s imports were US$ 138 million, with a surplus of US$ 319 million in Pakistan’s favor. The overall volume of trade between Pakistan and California was US$ 600 million, which was significant but needed to be scaled up given growing investment in IT and services sectors.
Despite being a big market, he said, Pakistan’s economy was undervalued and underestimated. Eighty US companies and enterprises were successfully doing business in Pakistan for decades and making substantial profits.
Masood Khan urged the members to have confidence in Pakistan’s economy and scale up their businesses in Pakistan as this would encourage others to invest. While noting their concerns regarding the regulatory regimes in Pakistan, the Ambassador said measures have been taken to streamline taxation, enforce intellectual property rights, liberalize business visa regime and implement cyber laws.
As a result, he said last year out of US$ 257 million FDI from US, a total of US$ 203 million profits had been repatriated. A number of companies from France, China, Germany, Singapore, South Korea and Japan were investing in Pakistan, particularly in the IT sectors.
Masood Khan also encouraged the Chamber members to closely work with US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and International Finance Corporation (IFC) which were investing in bankable projects in Pakistan particularly in the alternate energy sector. He also invited them to invest in Pakistan’s post-flood reconstruction and rehabilitation.
Highlighting the importance of engagement with think tanks based in California, the Ambassador encouraged the participants to develop stronger associations with think-tanks and work closely with them to promote stronger Pak-US relations.
PACC President Fawad Ismail gave an overview of the organization’s activities to enhance trade ties between Pakistan and the US, including investment seminars and webinars on Roshan Digital Account (RDA). He also highlighted the philanthropic work done by the Chamber. (APP)