Pakistan to remain beneficiary of GSP scheme: US envoy

KARACHI: US Consul General in Karachi, Michael J. Dodman, has said that Generalized Sales Preference GSP scheme has currently been put on hold due to ongoing situation in Washington but it will resume soon and Pakistan will continue to benefit from this important scheme.

Speaking at a meeting during his visit to Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry KCCI on Thursday, the US diplomat said that United States is the largest trading and investment partner of Pakistan. He advised that various issues, which had already been identified by trade associations, need to be addressed with a view to make Pakistan, particularly Karachi city an attractive place for foreign investors.

“We are working closely with various trade associations including KCCI, Sindh Board of Investment and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan to explore ways and means for attracting more investment in Pakistan”, he added.

The US Diplomat said that Unites States strongly believes that the future is on the business side that’s why they have been promoting trade and investment in Pakistan. A number of U.S.funded programs are underway for building the economy and capacity of various enterprises in Pakistan.

Commenting on visa policy, Dodman said that they have a fully operational visa office in Karachi where business visas are being issued. Expressing apologies for delayed visa processing, Michael Dodman said that they have to follow US laws which were causing delays however, the overall situation was improving.

US Consul General also congratulated the newly elected office bearers of KCCI and acknowledged the commendable role played by the outgoing office bearers, particularly former President KCCI, Haroon Agar in strengthening relations between KCCI and US Consulate.

Chairman of Businessmen Group and Former President of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry KCCI, Siraj Kassam Teli, while speaking on the occasion, stressed the need to further enhance Pak-US trade ties. Teli said that Pak-US relations have witnessed many ups and downs from time to time since 9/11 and have progressed well but the pace of trade has been too slow and things are not moving the way they should.

Teli pointed out that the existing exports of around US$3.5 billion does not reflect the existing potential and relations between the two nations, which must be enhanced to at least US$9 billion. United States must consider the fact that Pakistan has been playing the role of a frontline state in the war against terrorism during the past 12 years but has not been compensated accordingly.

Vice Chairman BMG, Zubair Motiwala, while praising United States’ move to undertake various development projects in Pakistan, suggested that US must also initiate programs focusing on job creation as joblessness remains an important issue in Pakistan.

“It must be realized that terrorism comes out of empty stomach. In order to create more job opportunities, the United States must consider granting FTA or PTA for the textile sector of Pakistan which is capable enough to generate tremendous job opportunities for Pakistani youth and skilled workforce”, he said, adding that trade and equitable treatment are permanent answers to the ills being faced by Pakistan today.

President KCCI, A. Abdullah Zaki, while warmly welcoming US Consul General and his team, said that Karachi Chamber has always had a very close and meaningful relationship with US Consulate in Karachi. President KCCI further pointed out that KCCI has remained vibrant in strengthening trade ties and exploring new bilateral trade prospects with USA. In this regard, KCCI emphasizes upon the need to minimize trade barriers between the two countries, he added.

He said, “Pakistan’s vital role in combating terrorism has proved us a time tested and true ally of US in which we have lost a lot of human and material resources. It is unfortunate that this devoted contribution of Pakistan has not been well recognized in terms of increased economic cooperation between Pakistan and USA.”

“We expect from US to help Pakistan address the economic challenges, energy crisis, enhanced US investments, technology transfer, education and training, scientific research and infrastructural development”, he added.

Commenting on Bilateral Investment Treaty, A. Abdullah Zaki opined that BIT would enable both countries to seriously negotiate the Free Trade Agreement that would bring trade and industry of both nations closer by creating a win-win situation for all.

Besides Dodman, the US Consulate team comprised of Ms. Anu Prattipati, Political & Economic Chief; Richard Bakewell, Economic Officer; Eduardo Garcia, Economic Officer, Ahsan Achakzai, Economic Specialist; Fahd Zaidi, Economic Specialist and Malik Attiq, US Commercial Services. Senior Vice President KCCI, Mufassar Atta Malik, Vice President KCCI, Muhammad Idrees, Former Presidents KCCI, A. Q Khalil, Haroon Agar, Mian Abrar, Saeed Shafiq, Khalid Firoze, Abdul Majeed Haji Muhammad and other Managing Committee members also attended the meeting.