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US govt launches US-Pakistan Partnership for Access to Credit program

ISLAMABAD: The two-day 3rd Pak-US Business Opportunities Conference concluded here with reiteration of firm resolve by the US businessmen and delegates to come up with investment plans in Pakistan.

 The visiting US businessmen were highly impressed by the briefings given by the concerned Pakistani officials about investment, privatization, tax and other policies, therefore they expressed their commitment to step forward with strategies regarding making huge investment in Pakistan.

 The immediate outcome U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference, of the conference became visible in the form of launch of the U.S.-Pakistan Partnership for Access to Credit program by the American government here on Wednesday.

 Larry Sampler, Assistant to the Administrator in the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) inaugurated the program, which will provide credit to qualified micro, small and medium-sized Pakistani businesses.

 The program partners USAID with four Pakistani banks: Bank Alfalah Limited, JS Bank Limited, Khushhalibank Limited, and First Micro Finance Bank Limited who will provide loan capital to under served businesses to help them expand, create jobs and increase revenues.

 The delegates as well as the American ambassador Richard Olson re-affirmed the commitment of the United States in words” we are advancing our shared goals in support of peace, prosperity, and stability for Pakistan, the United States, and this entire region.

 U.S. Ambassador Richard G. Olson, Minister Khurram Dastgir and Commerce Secretary Shazad Arbab were present at the closing ceremony of the third U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference.

 Expressing American’s commitment, Ambassador Olson said, “While today marks the conclusion of the conference, hopefully it is also the beginning of new business relationships, professional collaborations, and investments.  May the connections you have made here continue to flourish.”

 He re-affirmed the commitment of the United States, saying, “We will continue to work with the government and with all of you to realize the full economic potential of Pakistan.”  Ambassador Olson also noted that the presence of U.S. Commerce Secretary Pritzker underscored the seriousness of the United States’ commitment to building a stronger economic relationship with Pakistan.

More than 300 conference participants attended presentations regarding investment opportunities and financing options in Pakistan.  The conference featured testimonials from U.S. and Pakistani companies regarding the Pakistani business climate.

 U.S. and Pakistani companies from various sectors were represented, including textiles, agriculture, information and communication technology (ICT), healthcare, energy, and infrastructure.  The conference also featured a roundtable discussion for women entrepreneurs, highlighting the importance of integrating more women into the economy.

 Federal Minister for Commerce, Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan, Ambassador of the United States of America Richard Olson and Secretary of Ministry of Commerce Muhammad Shahzad Arbab attended the inaugural session of the Conference. Arbab presented the summary of the two-day conference.

 In his concluding remarks Federal Minister for Commerce, Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan said that Pakistan is on the verge of economic take-off and the projected GDP growth rate for Pakistan in the next few years in 4-6 %. He said that the Government is making policies to reduce the cost of doing business and increase the ease of doing business in the country.

 He apprised the audience that there are 600 multinational companies working in Pakistan whose businesses are flourishing are and most of them are expanding their businesses. The minister said that a number of major US Corporations and businesses have a long history of association with Pakistan, and boast an extremely good return on their investments.

 Dastgir said that in the past Pakistan’s pace of integration into the global economy was slow but the country is fast catching-up.  He said that the Government wants to make export sector as an engine of growth for the country as done by several recently developed economies. To achieve this aim the country has to enhance export competitiveness in short as well as long term and increase cumulative exports, he said. He further said that the Government is bringing regulatory amendments in the trade regulations, strengthening institutions, improving governance and introducing measures to enhance export competitiveness.

 The Minister said that in the conference the business communities of our two countries explored opportunities of trade and investment, shared information, developed linkages and deliberated on how best to move forward to turn prospects into tangible partnerships.

Various key initiatives taken by the Government to make Pakistan a top priority destination for investors for briefed in detail which included rectifying the Global Agreement on Trade and Environment, accession to Convention against Corruption, strengthening of Competition Commission of Pakistan and revamping the tariff structure of Pakistan.

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