American SMEs looking to invest in Pakistan

Irshad Salim — America’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are trying to invest in Pakistan, giving entrepreneurs here an opportunity to launch joint ventures with them, revealed Stephen P Knode, Commercial Counselor 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 during a meeting with business community at the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) on Thursday, report Express Tribune.

According to reports, trade between Pakistan and America was increasing at a steady pace and “export shipments from the latter in the first five months of current calendar year were worth $1.3 billion,” Knode said.

In fiscal year 2016 bilateral trade stood at $5.72 billion, which was in favor of Pakistan. Pakistan exported $3.62 billion worth of goods while US exports were worth $2.10 billion.

Knode emphasized 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 counselor 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.

According to reports, many international investors besides China are interested to headquarter their operations in Karachi — Pakistan’s economic capital located few hundred miles east of Gwadar port — gateway to the $62 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

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 organized. Last year, the conference was held in New York while in 2015 it was organized 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, skilled labor and security related.

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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