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Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs Urged to Join USPBC

Posted 18-JUN-04

Torrance, CA: Trade ties between Islamabad and Washington are poised to receive a boost as the recently established US-Pakistan Business Council (USPBC) gathers steam to launch new collaborative links between the two countries.

(L to R): Dr. Herbert Davis, Esperanza Gomez,
Pervaiz Lodhie and Najeeb Ghori
This was the consensus among leading Pakistani-American entrepreneurs who attended an interactive dinner, sponsored by USPBC members Pervaiz Lodhie and Najeeb Ghauri, at the Torrance Marriot on June 11, 2004.
Formally inaugurated at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington on September 30, 2002, USPBC is the leading private sector association of American companies who have business interests in Pakistan. Three charter members—The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, and Sweetwater International—spearheaded USPBC’s formation. “Both Coca Cola and PepsiCo have been active members of the US Chamber of Commerce for years, and Sweetwater International is truly a success story of positive American commercial involvement in Pakistan,” disclosed Esperanza Gomez, Executive Director, USPBC, who especially flew from Washington to attend the interactive dinner. Dr. Herbert Davis, Vice President for South Asia, Middle East and Africa Affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, also graced the meeting. Highly respected in business circles for his sincere and sustained strivings to promote US-Pakistan trade relations, Dr. Davis was the keynote speaker at the dinner.

Esperanza too has earned a name in Pakistani circles. For the past several years she has demonstrated unfailing zest while lobbying for Pakistan at the Hill. She is manifestly keen that the USPBC initiative should produce wholesome results with expedition.

Addressing leading Pakistani-American entrepreneurs present at the dinner she informed that Boeing, El Paso, Citigroup, Merck & Co., Telnia Corporation, Shalimar Investments, Netsol Technologies and Asian American Trading Services played a key role in the formation of the US-Pakistan Business Council. More recently, Motorola, Lights of America, Ledtronics and Delta Matrix became members of the Council. “The Council represents 15 leading American corporations—and we continue to grow,” she exuberantly claimed to the applause of the gathering.

“The Council needs your membership in order to represent broad commercial objectives in Pakistan. A larger membership would also strengthen the advocacy efforts of the Council. Through the USPBC, the United States Chamber of Commerce will continue to promote Pakistan as a venue for foreign direct investment,” Esperanza assured the Pakistani entrepreneurs. The USPBC “offers you access to top government officials in both Washington and Islamabad” so that “you can benefit from direct involvement with the US Chamber of commerce, the world’s largest business federation,” Esperanza explained.

In his keynote address, Dr. Herbert Davis made several edifying observations: “Pakistan is a country rich in history, culture, and human resources. Today it is also an emerging market rich with exciting opportunities for US foreign direct investment. Pakistan has an ideal geographic location with immediate access to the Central Asian Republics and has a competitively affordable and expanding workforce of over 40 million, many of whom are well versed in the English language. Since 1999, Pakistan has achieved significant macroeconomic successes as recognized by the multilateral lending institutions, in particular, the World Bank. Pakistan’s foreign investment policy is among the most open and liberal in South Asia. All of this is good news for American companies interested in doing business in Pakistan… Pakistan is in the position of providing the essential linkages between the economies of China and the Middle East.“

Dr. Davis who prides on his 25-year association with Islamabad—he claims “Pakistan has played an important role in my life” and relishes his ties with the country—spotlighted the role of the US-Pakistan Business Council by describing it as “a powerful vehicle to explore the various opportunities” for bilateral trade between the two countries. The Council can, and is, assisting the American corporate community in surveying opportunities in Pakistan’s vast resource-based industries, such as oil and gas and petrochemicals, the fast growing infrastructure sector, which includes opportunities in hydroelectric power generation, highway motorway construction, oil and gas pipelines, port and railway projects, and other industries, such as, textiles, garments, software, and automotive manufacturing. “Information technology and telecommunications embody some of the more promising sectors for US companies,” he said, adding, “the oil and gas sector represents another promising sector for US investors.”

Dr. Davis felt that overseas Pakistanis could play a catalytic role in boosting foreign investment in Pakistan. In this context, he cited the examples of Indian and Chinese expatriate communities. “As you know, in China and India, foreign investment came after their overseas communities began making large investments in their homelands, which provided a lift to the industrial sector. Pakistani Americans can be the bridge-builders between the two countries. If you achieve sales and investments in Pakistan other investors will follow,” he remarked.

Several Pakistani-American entrepreneurs, besides Consul General Noor Mohammad Jadmani and Trade Consular Tariq Bajwa, made insightful and well-meaning observations on the occasion. Mr. Jadmani spoke of the recent successes—a record $ 12 billion foreign exchange reserve and an expected GDP growth rate of 6% this year. “Pakistani Americans and friends can help individually and collectively by lobbying for trade concessions,” the Consul General observed.

Mr. Bajwa, who also acted as the emcee and impressed everyone with the propriety of his conduct, made quite a few suggestions to bolster Pak-US trade.

Mr. Najeeb Ghauri of Netsol Technologies urged the Pakistani-American community to “do something phenomenally… the opportunity could not be better. Don’t underestimate the potential. It is just the beginning.” Mr. Ghauri also paid a glowing tribute to Dr. Herbert Davis: “He is more Pakistani than Pakistanis. He visits Pakistan frequently.” He exhorted Pakistani-American entrepreneurs to join USPBC “to help us, to help our businesses.”

Mr. Abu Bakar Vakil of Lights of America described the current business atmosphere in Pakistan as “most congenial” with government officials eager to “extend help left and right” to forge new trade links with foreign investors. He also complimented the USPBC for doing a “fantastic job.”

Mr. Pervaiz Lodhie of Ledtronics observed that the Pakistani-American community has “lately started taking advantage of US contacts. ”The formation of USPBC is a manifestation of this wholesome trend. Mr. Lodhie urged the Pakistani Americans to invest in Pakistan “so that Americans can be prompted to invest in Pakistan too. ”Theirs is a key role to facilitate the flow of foreign investment in the homeland, he told the Pakistani-American entrepreneurs present in the meeting.

The interactive discussion saw the participants making useful suggestions to strengthen USPBC so as to boost Pak-US trade ties. Concluding the evening’s proceedings, Mr. Tariq Bajwa disclosed that his five-year tenure as Trade Consular in Los Angeles was drawing to a close next month. He will be leaving for Pakistan thereafter. He made his mark as a bright, conscientious officer with a great deal of verve. The community will miss him after his departure.

Publish Date: June 18, 2004
Internet Version of the Weekly Pakistan Link published in Los Angeles by Pakistan Link LLC

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