US assistance focused on energy in Pakistan: James Fluker

LAHORE: The US investors are showing keen interest in oil and gas exploration in Pakistan because of the incentives given in the recently announced Petroleum Policy but the government still needs to create awareness about the benefits to attract more investors from other parts of the world as well.

This was stated by US Commercial Counsellor James Fluker. He was talking to LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar during a visit to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday. Frank P Tallute, Economic Officer, US Consulate, LCCI Vice President Mian Abuzar Shad, former President Tariq Hameed, Executive Committee members Mian Zahid Javaid, Mumshad Ali and Asia Saail Khan also spoke on the occasion.

James Fluker said that new discoveries of oil and gas could help Pakistan in overcoming its energy problem to some extent. He said there was a revolution in the US energy sector after the discovery of Shale gas. In fact the US has surplus gas that it could export.

The US Commercial Counsellor said that a large part of US assistance to Pakistan is focused on energy as it is alive to the issue. He said that the US government is committed to help solve the economic challenges being faced by Pakistan.

He said that it is a happy sign that the private sector in Pakistan is doing well despite a number of challenges.

To a question about Civil Nuclear Technology, James Fluker said that no option should be discarded and should be taken up at higher level.

Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar called for immediate US response to Pakistan’s energy woes. He said there must be some timeframe to this regard as Pakistan and US have very cordial relations for the last many decades. He said that a lot many problems could be solved if US grants greater access to Pakistani merchandise.

The LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that the US enjoys exclusive position for the last many decades in the field of trade and investment.
Pakistan is a major non-NATO ally of US as part of the War on Terror.
United States is the largest economic aid contributor and the second largest supplier of military equipment to Pakistan after China.

He said that the ongoing war on terror that has engaged Pakistan for more than a decade is proving to be the biggest hurdle in the way of our economic growth. As per some careful estimates, our involvement in this effort to curb terrorism across the borders has caused losses to the tune of almost US$ 70 billion.

Due to such commitments, Pakistan has not been able to succeed in terms of maintaining similar economic growth rate with other bordering countries like China and India, keeping up industrial process, achieving export targets and optimally exploiting available resources both natural and human.

It is urgent need of the hour to revive the economy of Pakistan through increasing the level of FDI which is also shying away due to security reasons. In the span of five years our FDI has come down from over US$ 8 billion to around half a billion.

Since America is leading this war, therefore, we feel that it is the prime responsibility of America to help and assist us to get out of this trouble which is accumulating with the passage of time.

US happen to be the biggest export market for Pakistan. Although the value of exports is marginally increasing over the period of time but the percentage share of Pakistan’s exports to US is decreasing. In 2009, it was 18.3% which declined to 17.1% and 15.2% in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Pakistan’s exports to US have yet to touch US$ 4 billion mark whereas we do have greater capacity to increase this level to more than 56 billion dollars. We desperately require not only greater access to US market but also some transfer of technology. US investors may be attracted and motivated towards the huge investment opportunities available in energy sector of Pakistan.

The LCCI President said that FTA between Pakistan and USA can be a good option to give much needed boost to exports. Moreover GSP plus arrangement with US can also provide great opportunity to Pakistani exporters to capture greater share in US market.

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