London: I was struck by the diversity of businesses that are trading between our two nations, and the wealth of opportunity there is for business. This is my personal observation while visiting Pakistan in my role as British Minister for Pakistan over the last year with British business representatives. Senior Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi expressed these views in a flagship Pakistan Trade and Investment Conference held at prestigious Lancaster House in London. It was organized by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) in collaboration with the Pakistan High Commission in UK, and Pakistan British Trade and Investment Forum (PBTIF).
The conference was attended by over 80 business representatives from UK and Pakistan companies. The aim was to raise awareness of investment opportunities in Pakistan, the support available for UK companies considering the market, and provides a forum for business leaders from both nations to make important connections.
The event was attended by Senior Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi, with a keynote speech from UK Minister for Trade Lord Livingston. Pakistan High Commissioner for UK Mr Wajid Shamsul Hasan represented the Pakistan side. Discussions throughout the day focused on three key sectors – Energy, Education, and Retail.
Speaking on the occasion, Baroness Warsi further said: Today’s conference is an important step in raising awareness of the business opportunities that exist and building even more trade links between the UK and Pakistan. “There is much to be positive about for the future. I was delighted that the European Parliament voted last week to grant Pakistan the “Generalised Scheme of Preferences plus (GSP+)” – something the UK has been a tireless advocate for – and will present even greater opportunity for bilateral trade.”
Minister for Trade and Investment Lord Livingston said: “Bilateral had trade reached £2.1 billion in 2012 – a sign that we are heading in the right direction – but work remains to be done to ensure Pakistan and the UK truly benefit from this partnership. “The Prime Ministers of our countries have agreed an ambitious trade target to increase bilateral trade to £3 billion by 2015. “Today’s event will raise awareness of the trade opportunities between Pakistan and the UK, help make new connections and highlight the Government support available to businesses that want to export.” He further stressed.
In his address on this occasion, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK, Mr Wajid Shamsul Hasan said:
“Historically, Britain and Pakistan have always enjoyed substantial trading relationship, with more than 100 British companies operating successfully in Pakistan. Pakistan’s relations with the United Kingdom are on a growth trajectory in all areas of bilateral cooperation including trade, economic growth and development, cultural cooperation, security and education. I am sure this event will provide an opportunity to understand the trade and economic environment in Pakistan and to develop better understanding about doing business with Pakistan. ”
Today’s conference is even more important following the European Parliament granting Pakistan GSP+ status last week. High Commissioner Hasan expressed his deep appreciation of the role and efforts of the United Kingdom for spearheading a comprehensive campaign stretching over several years to help Pakistan achieve this status. He especially thanked British Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Foreign Secretary William Hague, MP Alistair Burt, Cabinet Minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Former Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Baroness Ashton. He particularly thanked Lord Green, former Trade Minister, Mr Martin Donnelly, Permanent Secretary for the Department of Business and CEO UKTI Nick Baird, Socialist International’s Secretary General Luis Ayala for their enormous support in Pakistan’s pursuit of the GSP+.
The High Commissioner also thanked MEP Sajjad Karim who over the years had painstakingly garnered support for Pakistan amongst his fellow MEP’s in Brussels.
Mr Hasan paid rich tribute to his outgoing counter-part Adam Thomson for leaving no stone unturned in reviving economy of Pakistan. He termed Adam Thomson a true friend of Pakistan whose contribution to foster better relations between the two countries shall be fondly remembered.
The event also included a panel discussion with Baroness Warsi, British High Commissioner for Pakistan Adam Thomson, Vince Harris OBE, and Kubir Shirazee. Nosina Mobarik OBE who is Chairperson of the PBTIF moderated the conference.