Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, President FPCCI, has apprised that a high-profile delegation – vis-à-vis trade, investment and economic relations – visited FPCCI to forge an alliance from the platform of the apex body with the private-sector of Pakistan. It is pertinent to note that the visit was held under the auspices of the influential American – Pakistan Public Affairs Committee (APPAC) led by Mr. Philip Ramos, Deputy Speaker of the New York State Assembly and; was attended by prominent business personalities of Karachi.
Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh explained that New York is one of the most significant states of the U.S. for Pakistan’s business community as it is a financial and commercial center of a country that accounts for upwards 17 percent of total trade of Pakistan; and, as per latest trade statistics, Pakistan – U.S. bilateral trade stands at $9.4 billion. This is a huge number for Pakistan’s economy and our peculiar dependence on foreign exchange, he added.
Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh stressed that Pakistan deserves enhanced access to U.S. market for having suffered badly by the war on terror for a long-drawn-out period; last year’s floods and bearing the brunt of the climate change.
Mr. Suleman Chawla, SVP FPCCI, maintained that Pakistani businessmen have a lot to export to U.S. – nonetheless, they are constrained due to the delays and restrictions in visa issuance. Therefore, easing and expediting visa issuance process logically becomes the first step towards enabling chamber-to-chamber and business-to-business linkages between the two countries.
Engr. M. A. Jabbar, VP FPCCI, highlighted that interacting with the private-sector will be much more productive and result-oriented as there have been bureaucratic lethargy and red-tapism in dealing through the government alone.
Mr. Philip Ramos, Deputy Speaker of the New York State Assembly, announced a number of proposed measures aimed at formalizing cooperation between APPAC and his assembly with FPCCI:
(i) two high-powered committees should be formed with FPCCI to explore the opportunities; one is to enhance the investment and economic cooperation; and, the second for B2B alliances & matchmaking between New York businessmen and FPCCI (ii) he will lobby for humanitarian and economic assistance to Pakistan with New York State government as states in the U.S. enjoy autonomy to forge economic linkages (iii) he will look into the advocacy options to facilitate the visa issuance to businessmen from Pakistan (iv) American – Pakistani Public Affairs Committee (APPAC) will facilitate trade promotion activities of FPCCI delegates in the U.S. (v) New York Chamber of Commerce will be encouraged to form chamber-to-chamber alliance with FPCCI.