LAHORE: (APP) Pakistan Ambassador-designate to United States of America (USA) Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said on Monday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has given him the task of 'Trade, not Aid' with the USA and he had taken the responsibility as a mission.
He was talking to Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Abdul Basit, Senior Vice President Amjad Ali Jawa and Vice President Muhammad Nasir Hameed Khan here at the LCCI building. Former LCCI president Sohail Lashari, former senior vice president Mian Nauman Kabir, former vice president Saeeda Nazar, EC members Mian Zahid Javed, Mian Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Nazir, Zahid Maqsood Butt and Tahir Manzoor Chaudhry also spoke on the occasion.
"We would like to come out from the aid syndrome, as Pakistan has all potential to get maximum share in the international trade," he said and added that both Nawaz Sharif and Trump governments have economic agendas; therefore, there should be meaningful talks on trade and investment between the two countries.
United States is the largest trade partner of Pakistan and over one million Pakistani expatriates are living there. They would be encouraged to work to make Pakistan's perception better, he added.
Aizaz Chaudhry particularly mentioned Afghanistan saying that peace in that country is in the benefit of Pakistan. He said that a new history is in the making as the country has left the difficult times behind, citing that ECO Summit in Islamabad and the PSL final in Lahore have given a great message to the world, because overall situation is far better than in the past and Pakistan is emerging as a hub of economic activities and gaining the attention of foreign investors.
He said that American investors would also be convinced to enhance their investment in Pakistan.
LCCI President Abdul Basit said on the occasion that rising mutual trade is a good omen and this trend should be continued, adding that mutual trade rose to $5.5 billion in 2015 from $4.4 billion in 2013. However, both countries have potential to grow mutual trade to $10 billion through joint efforts.
He said that the US enjoyed exclusive position for the last many decades in the field of trade and investment and Pakistan was a major non-NATO ally of the US as part of the war on terror.
He said that the war against terrorism that had engaged Pakistan for more than a decade was proving to be the biggest hurdle to the way of our economic growth. As per some careful estimates, our involvement in this effort to curb terrorism across the borders has caused losses to the tune of almost US$120 billion to Pakistan's economy.
Abdul Basit said that business community in Pakistan also wanted the Trump government to consider allowing duty-free access to Pakistani merchandise in lieu of Pakistan's sacrifices in the US war against terrorism.
Economic stability of Pakistan through prompt direct market access to US is must to crush the terror in the region effectively.
Aid or grant is undoubtedly remedy but has never been a substitute to trade, and market access will help rehabilitate and reconstruct the totally damaged basic industrial infrastructure besides generating jobs for millions of jobless people.
If the US is sincere with Pakistan, it must also fulfil all commitments made on different occasions that Reconstruction of Opportunity Zones would be established, he mentioned.
Abdul Basit said that the US happenes to be the biggest export market for Pakistan but it has been witnessed that Pakistani exports to the USA are stagnant. Pakistan Embassy in the USA would have to ensure dissemination of trade, fairs & exhibitions related information.
He said that exchange of trade delegation always helps enhance trade volume. A delegation of the LCCI is planning to visit the US soon to exploit trade and investment opportunities.