US Consul General in Karachi, Ms. Grace W. Shelton has said that Karachi Chamber has a long history of relationships with United States hence, KCCI has to play a role in strengthening trade relations between the two countries. “I want to see economic ties between United States and Pakistan grow deeper and stronger”, she added while exchanging views at a meeting during her visit to Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Tuesday.
Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, Vice Chairmen BMG Tahir Khaliq and Zubair Motiwala, President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, Senior Vice President KCCI Asif Nisar, Vice President KCCI Muhammad Younus Soomro, Former Presidents KCCI Mian Abrar Ahmed, MNA Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh and KCCI Managing Committee members were also present at the meeting.
US Consul General Grace Shelton assured that her team at US Consulate Karachi will continue to work with Pakistani and US Companies to attract investment and build lasting connections. “The more we work together, the more we can bring jobs both to United States and to Pakistan”, she added. Stressing the need to enhance people-to-people and business-to-business ties, she said that these ties can also affect government-to-government ties. People-to-people ties are very important as they will improve the perception about Karachi and Pakistan, besides help in dealing with the issue of travel advisories.
She was of the opinion that Karachi was the center of economic energy of Pakistan and its people are always ready for any challenge which was the basic reason why this city is the economic hub of Pakistan, contributing over 60 percent to government’s revenue. She further informed that the Government of Pakistan was planning to hold “Business Opportunities Conference” in Karachi next year within the timeline of April or May 2017 which was staged last year in New York. The event will provide an opportunity to local business people to discuss trade and investment with particular focus on fashion apparel, healthcare, information and communication technology and agriculture.
Moreover, an agricultural trade delegation from Pakistan will also be sent to US to attend a big expo in Atlanta from January 30th to February 2nd, 2017 with a theme of “Innovation in the Agriculture”, which will comprise of private sector, federal and provincial officials. She invited KCCI to participate in this expo in order to see the technological advancements in the agriculture business.
On the occasion, Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, while briefing the US Consul General about Karachi Chamber’s role and the relentless efforts being made by Businessmen Group since last nearly 20 years, said that the Karachi Chamber has been actively taking up issues with all three tiers of the government including federal, provincial and local governments. “Karachi has been contributing more than 65 percent revenue to the national exchequer and everything moves across Pakistan from Karachi. Many people say Karachi is mini Pakistan but I strongly believe that Karachi is Pakistan and there is no Pakistan without Karachi”, he added.
Chairman BMG requested US Consul General to help out Karachi and Pakistan in convincing the US government about what Karachi is and what its people are. “This is something which I have been requesting to all the Consul Generals in Pakistan in order to deal with many misconceptions about the security situation of Karachi and Pakistan as the negative perception terribly hampers trade and business activities”, Siraj Teli said, “US business people prefer meeting their counterparts from Karachi outside Pakistan either in Dubai or in US due to the negative perception which requires serious attention.”
Referring to Karachi Operation initiated in 2013, he said that lots of changes have happened and Karachi was not the same as it was some three years ago. “Even in the past, the security situation of Karachi was not as bad as it was being projected mainly by the western media which developed a misleading impression that the entire city was unsafe. To counter this misperception about Karachi, we started My Karachi – Oasis of Harmony Exhibition in 2004 with a sole purpose to tell the world what Karachi really is and what its people are and how people move freely around this city which is spread on a massive land of 3500 square kilometers with a huge population of more than 20 million people”, he added.
Siraj Teli pointed out that Karachi was bigger than 80 countries of the in terms of population and in terms of size hence it was unfair to portray the entire city as unsafe in case anything goes wrong in any particular area of the city because even in such a situation, the rest of the city moves on normally. He said that the law and order situation was 90 percent better than what it was some three years ago yet many countries including United States have been issuing negative travel advisories about Karachi which we don’t understand. “We as businessmen, as Karachiites and as Pakistanis would definitely question such advisories”, he added, while requesting the Consul General to tell the US government how safe it has become in Karachi and even diplomats like you have been roaming around freely in this city, hence there should not be any travel advisory about Karachi.
Commenting on Pakistan-US ties, Siraj Teli said that although good relations exist between the people and business communities of the two countries but Pakistan-US ties have seen many ups and downs. “We still are in a situation where we face political issues and numerous other issues”, he said. Chairman BMG said, “During the past many years, focus has been more on aid but we, as businessmen, would prefer trade over aid. Some kind of more initiatives have to be facilitated between business communities of the two countries in order to enhance trade which has remained stagnant.”
“Somehow and somewhere there is a disconnect between the business communities of Pakistan and United States. This disconnect has to be take care of in order to pave way for enhanced trade. Yes! There are political issues and other issues because of our geographical location but all these problems are not created by us. These issues are being created by the outside people with vested interests”, he added.
Earlier, while welcoming the US Consul General, President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo said that the Karachi Chamber was keen to strengthen trade ties and explore new bilateral trade prospects with United States as they strongly believe in ‘Trade, not Aid’. He mentioned that during FY201515-16, Pakistan’s exports to US were recorded at 3.72 billion dollars as against exports of 3.96 billion dollars in the corresponding period of last year, showing a decline of 6.18 percent. Whereas, Pakistan’s import from US stood at around 1,480 million dollars during FY16 as against imports of 1,197 million dollars in the same period last year, reflecting an increase of 23.64 percent. He said that by increasing trade and economic activities, both USA and Pakistan can enjoy mutually beneficial relations on a sustained basis.