United States Department of State
U.S. Business U.S. Business Leaders Visit
Pakistan, Praise Economic Reforms
Executives call for bilateral investment, trade agreements
April 27, 2006
U.S. Business Leaders Visit Pakistan, Praise
Economic Reforms Executives call for bilateral investment, trade agreements
A delegation of 12 U.S. business executives from
the U.S.-Pakistan Business Council visited Islamabad April 24-26 to meet with
Pakistani officials and members of the local American Business Council.
The business leaders praised the Pakistani
government for its efforts to reform and deregulate the economy and urged the
government to continue legal reforms to ensure economic transparency, faster
dispute resolution, transparency in title ownership and protection of
intellectual property rights.
The business leaders urged the U.S. and
Pakistani governments to move ahead with negotiations for a bilateral investment
treaty and a free-trade agreement.
They said they would work to improve Pakistan’s
image in the U.S. business community as a stable place for investment and a
valuable commercial partner.
For information on U.S. policy in the region,
see South and Central Asia.
Following is a press release on the executives’
Embassy of the United States of America
U.S.-Pakistan Business Council Delegates Meet
with Key Government Officials in Pakistan
Islamabad, April 27, 2006 - A delegation of
twelve business executives, organized by the U.S. Pakistan Business Council (USPBC),
visited Islamabad, Pakistan from April 24-26. The USPBC is the leading private
sector association of U.S. companies with business and investment interests in
The delegation was chaired by Jay Collins,
Chairman, USPBC and CEO, Public Sector Group, Citigroup. Esperanza Gomez,
Executive Director of the USPBC, accompanied the delegation.
The business representatives met with President
Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Minister State for Foreign
Affairs Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, Secretary of Commerce Syed Asif Shah, Secretary
of Information Technology Farrakh Qayyum, Secretary of the Board of Investment
Muhammad Jehangir Bashar, and Director General of the Intellectual Property
Organisation Yasin Tahir. The delegates also met with officials of the U.S.
Embassy in Islamabad.
In addition, the delegation met with members of
the American Business Council of Pakistan (ABC), an organization that comprises
local representatives of U.S. corporations. ABC is chaired by Zubyr Soomro.
USPBC delegates and ABC members agreed on an agenda of cooperation on issues
related to advancing U.S.-Pakistan bilateral business cooperation. The delegates
also met with members of the Federation of Pakistani Chambers of Commerce and
Prior to arriving in Pakistan, the delegation
members held meetings in Washington. D.C. The USPBC hosted Salman Shah, adviser
to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Finance and Economic Affairs; Shamshad
Akhtar, Governor, State Bank of Pakistan; Nawid Ahsan, Secretary General of
Finance; and Tanwir Ali Agha, Secretary of Finance, who were in Washington for
the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. In
addition, the delegation held meetings with Richard Boucher, U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and Frank Lavin, U.S.
Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. The delegation was briefed
by Edward Gresser, Progressive Policy Institute and Ambassador Teresita
Schaffer, Center for Strategic and International Studies, both experts on
Pakistan, as well as senior congressional staff.
During its meetings, the delegation praised the
success of the Government of Pakistan in reforming and deregulating the
country's economy. In particular, the business executives noted the growth of
Pakistan's economy at the second highest rate in the world (8.4% in 2005) and
record macro-economic performance across a broad array of indicators. The
delegation agreed that the Government of Pakistan is having remarkable success
with its privatization program across the banking, telecommunications, metals
and mining and energy sectors.
The delegates expressed their strong support for
prompt conclusion of a high standard Bilateral Investment Treaty. The view was
expressed that the BIT was a necessary building block in order to move forward
with discussions on a U.S.-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The business
executives agreed, once a BIT is concluded, to put an FTA on the Council's
priority agenda. An additional building block in improving U.S. Pakistan
commercial ties is President Bush's initiative to create Reconstruction
Opportunity Zones (ROZs). Members believe that ROZs could play an important role
in creating jobs in depressed areas of Pakistan and will be helpful in the fight
Central to most discussions of the delegation
were the Second Generation of Reforms currently underway in Pakistan. Legal,
procedural, judicial and institutional reforms that are part of the government
program will be critical to strengthening process efficiencies and contract
enforcement, as well as to improving dispute resolution mechanisms that can
cause disputes to linger on for long periods. The Aerospace industry stands out
as an example of procurement transparency, integrity and the ability of the
government to streamline government rules vis-à-vis the private sector.
Continuing to successfully transfer this experience across other sectors and
smaller size transactions is important.
The delegation expressed optimism that U.S.
companies already operating in Pakistan will continue to grow their investments
in the country based on their positive experience and profitability in the local
market. However, the perception of Pakistan in the U.S. lags reality and is
often dominated by issues surrounding security and terrorism. As a partner of
the U.S. in the war on terrorism, Pakistan continues to place a high priority on
security. USPBC has agreed to work with the government of Pakistan and its
Public Affairs consultant on image building in the U.S., devising mechanisms to
enhance Pakistan's profile, and developing case studies of U.S. corporations
with successful experiences in the country.
The delegation discussed the positive role that
American business leaders of Pakistani descent can have on attracting
investment. In addition, many of the Pakistani government officials with whom
the delegation met, expressed gratitude for the efforts of so many U.S.
corporations in support of Pakistan's earthquake relief efforts.
As many U.S. companies continue to send
Pakistani staff to the U.S., delegates expressed frustration with the continued
delays in processing U.S. visas. While U.S. security must remain the primary
objective, members urged further consideration of improvement in the processing
The delegates urged the Government of Pakistan
to continue to pursue ways to improve the process and transparency in the area
of title ownership of real estate. They also discussed the negative impact and
distortions of price controls in the pharmaceutical sector and of double
taxation in the beverage industry.
In the area of Intellectual Property Rights, the
delegation expressed its appreciation to the leadership of IPO for advancing the
IPR agenda in such a short period of time. The delegates urged the Government of
Pakistan to continue to fully support IPO's initiatives as much work remains.
USPBC agreed to take a series of steps to continue to reinforce the IPR
initiatives of the Government of Pakistan, including examining ways to promote
investment in the life sciences sector, matching new U.S. investors with select
Pakistani producers, who have committed to abide by global IPR standards, to
continue to provide views on legislation that would make Pakistan TRIPs
compliant in the area of clinical data protection.
Members of the delegation exchanged views with
government officials regarding the sectors, on both sides, that would benefit
from a Free Trade Agreement. There was broad agreement that USPBC should further
develop information on, and understanding of, the merits of an FTA.
The USPBC is an affiliate of the US Chamber of
Commerce in Washington, DC. The U.S. Chamber is the world's largest business
federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of
every size, sector and region.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International
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