US govt-led ‘Investment Promotion Activity’ initiative launched: Step taken to boost trade, FDI flows
- Project aims to reduce barriers to investment and trade by improving Pakistan’s investment promotion capabilities
ISLAMABAD: The United States Ambassador to Pakistan, Donald Blome, together with Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha on Wednesday formally launched the Investment Promotion Activity (IPA) – a US government-led initiative to enhance Pakistan-US bilateral trade.
The IPA initiative was launched in honour of “Global Entrepreneurship Week” at an event here. To be implemented by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), it is a five-year project that will help strengthen Pakistan’s business environment, build the capacity of Pakistani institutions focused on investment promotion, attract foreign direct investment, and increase US-Pakistan bilateral trade and investment.
Overall, the project aims to reduce barriers to investment and trade by improving Pakistan’s investment promotion capabilities.
The project will also provide grants to firms registered in Pakistan that are interested in enhancing trade with the United States and have the potential to attract foreign direct investments. These grants will play a critical role in connecting Pakistani firms with investors in the United States and other countries.
Speaking on the occasion on the Pakistan-US bilateral trade opportunities, Ambassador Blome stated that the US has been a leading investor in Pakistan for the past 20 years, and US investment in Pakistan is the highest it has been in over a decade.
“Building on and expanding that strong foundation of economic cooperation, we are continuously seeking to increase bilateral trade, boost investment, and improve entrepreneurial and educational opportunities for Pakistanis,” he said.
As a part of the US government’s long-term commitment to helping Pakistanis secure a more prosperous future, USAID is working closely with the government of Pakistan to streamline its business practices, improve governance, promote regulatory reforms and competition with the goal of lowering the cost of doing business and strengthening the investment climate for foreign investors in Pakistan.
The ambassador said that the newly launched activity will promote opportunities for enhanced trade and investment between American and Pakistani businesses. He said that the US has a long history of cooperation with Pakistan in various areas including infrastructure, energy, and agriculture, adding that they are looking for ways to boost this cooperation.
He said that women in Pakistan remain the most untapped resource which needs to be utilized for the country’s economic stability through offering economic opportunities such as entrepreneurship.
The United States has long been Pakistan’s largest export market, with potential for further growth. According to the US Census Bureau, the United States imported nearly $5.3 billion in Pakistani goods in 2021, and US investments in Pakistan went up by 50 percent in the past year.
In her remarks, Dr Pasha lauded the IPA initiative, saying that it will help the local business, besides enhancing trade between Pakistan and the US. She said that there is tremendous potential for enhancing relations with the US.
She said that there is a need to move forward not only on trade and investment but also in the services sector, particularly the IT sector which offers huge opportunities for foreign investment. She further stated that Pakistan’s highest asset is the potential human resource.
She stated that Pakistan offers a conducive environment for foreign investment, particularly in the special economic zones (SEZs), adding that terrorism is no longer an issue. She said that economic stability is the top priority of the current government on which it is engaged with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international financial institution to bring the country’s economy back on track.
About the country’s tourism, she said that it is an important area where the government has focused its efforts on the infrastructure, and the hospitality industry with a view to attracting foreign tourists. Furthermore, she added that Pakistan also offers destinations for religious tourism which the government is committed to do what it can do.
In his remarks, Farrukh Mehboob Khan, the Chief of Party, USAID’s IPA, highlighted the objectives of the initiative, saying that it aimed at reducing the cost of businesses through offering grants and facilitating their products to reach the US market.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022