Pakistan’s business community holds high hopes from PM’s US visit

In this October 23, 2018 file photo, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives to attend the opening ceremony of the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia. (AFP)
Updated 16 July 2019

Pakistan’s business community holds high hopes from PM’s US visit

  • Eyes Preferential Trade Agreement with the US
  • Wants inclusion of textile goods in the United States’ GSP program

KARACHI: Pakistan’s business community wants the government to negotiate a Preferential Trade Agreement with the United States during the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Washington next week where he is scheduled to meet with US President Donald Trump on July 22.
The two leaders are expected to discuss a range of issues, including counterterrorism, defense, energy and trade, “with the goal of creating conditions for a peaceful South Asia and an enduring partnership between the two countries,” confirmed the White House ahead of the summit level meeting.
Founding chairman of the Pak-US Business Council, Iftikhar Ali Malik, said that “Pakistan has rendered huge sacrifices in the war on terror and its economy is suffering from the impact of the conflict in Afghanistan.”
“Pakistan deserves preferential business treatment without tariff and non-tariff barriers and free flow of bilateral trade, said Malik. “The US must help Pakistan build its industrial institutions, undertake joint ventures and increase investment in Pakistan.”
Pakistan is the 56th largest goods trading partner of the US, and the two countries had $6.6 billion of bilateral trade during 2018 where Pakistan’s imports totaled $2.9 billion and its exports with the US stood at $3.7 billion. The overall trade volume was in favor of Pakistan with surplus trade last year.
“The US goods trade deficit with Pakistan was $783 million in 2018, a 2.2% increase over 2017,” noted the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) in one of its reports.
Pakistan’s major exports comprise of textile goods which stand at about 3 percent to US textile imports, while the country’s regional competitors, China, Bangladesh and India, have much higher contributions.
Members of the local business community say they want PM Khan to take up the issue of including his country, especially its textile products, in the US trade preference programs, such as the Generalized System of Preference (GSP). The program provides opportunities for many of the world’s least developed countries to use trade for their economic growth.
“We are not included in the GSP program of the United States and we want to avail this facility to increase the range of our textile products in US markets,” Junaind Makda, president of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), told Arab News.
“If the US is persuaded to include Pakistan’s textile products in GSP, it will increase Pakistan’s exports up to $500 million because textiles contribute 90 percent to USA market from Pakistan,” Dr. Mirza Ifkhtiar Baig, senior vice president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), the apex body of businessmen and traders, said.
Many Pakistanis believe that the US government can rescue their country from the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and help soften the condition of the International Monetary Fund’s bailout package.
“The prime minister can take up the issue of FATF that has grey-listed Pakistan, as fears of further downgrading is hanging over our head like the sword of Damocles. Pakistan can also seek US help to ease the harsh conditions attached to the IMF bailout program,” Dr. Baig suggested.
Pakistani business community also seeks US help with urban forestry since “they have very good expertise related to environmental issues,” Makda said.
Pakistani businessmen, who are fed up with the constant inflow of smuggled goods, mainly from Afghanistan, also want the prime minister to raise this issue with the US authorities. “We need their help to stop smuggling from Afghanistan,” the KCCI president stressed.


Pakistanis in Dubai help release over 150 inmates from UAE prisons amid pandemic

Updated 27 min 44 sec ago

Pakistanis in Dubai help release over 150 inmates from UAE prisons amid pandemic

  • A majority of those who received Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) assistance were Pakistanis, but it also helped a number of people of other nationalities
  • Prime minister’s special assistant for overseas Pakistanis says PAD is the main organization helping repatriate nationals from UAE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) has helped amid the coronavirus pandemic release and repatriate more than 150 people from prisons in the United Arab Emirates.
In the past three months, PAD helped 154 inmates at prisons in Ajman and Dubai by buying their air tickets to return home and paid the fines required for their release orders to be issued. A majority of those who received PAD assistance were Pakistanis, but the association also helped a number of people of other nationalities.
“We arranged release and repatriation of 71 inmates from Ajman central prison this month. The initiative was not the first for PAD. We had also helped in release of 83 prisoners three months back from Dubai,” Rizwan Fancy, community welfare director at PAD, told Arab News over the phone from Dubai on Saturday.
The association has been working closely with UAE authorities.
“We were in process with Ajman government since the start of this month and completed the repartition this week after fulfilling all legal and medical requirements like COVID-19 testing,” Fancy said.
Those who received the assistance had been sentenced for petty crimes such as bounced cheques or overstaying. The have completed their sentences but were unable to pay release fines.
“We usually contact authorities and they share the list of such prisoners who can be released by paying small fines,” Fancy said. “We then arrange these things for the prisoners and subsequently their release takes place. We not only arranged for the release of Pakistani prisoners but managed to help in the release of 37 prisoners from other nationalities as well.”
The foreigners included citizens of Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia, Iran, Nigeria, Somalia, Iraq and Cameroon.
Every year, the association repatriates fellow nationals as well as other people who reach out for help, Fancy said.
“We take immense pride in serving the forgotten members of the community. We went out of our way and ensured support for all those deserving help.”
One of the repatriated Pakistanis, a resident of Chakwal who requested not to be named, said he is grateful to PAD. “They have arranged my repatriation from UAE. They have provided me with tickets and also fulfilled other requirements. My family is also very happy,” he told Arab News.
The prime minister’s special assistant for overseas Pakistanis, Sayed Zulifqar Bukhari, said that in PAD has been the main organization helping repatriate Pakistanis from the UAE.
“None of it would have been possible if we didn’t have the support and contributions of organizations like PAD and other individuals,” Bukhari said.
“It’s due to them why Pakistan has such a strong diaspora in UAE.”