The second annual UK – Pakistan Trade and Investment Conference was held in London on 17 December. The conference, which fulfils a UK commitment under the UK-Pakistan trade and investment roadmap, was attended by over 50 business representatives from UK and Pakistan companies, and delivered in partnership with the Pakistan Britain Trade and Investment Forum. The aim is 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 conference was attended by Senior Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi, with a keynote speech from UK Minister for Trade Lord Livingston. Discussions throughout the day focused on three key sectors – Energy, Education, and Retail.
Yesterday’s conference is even more important following the European Parliament granting Pakistan GSP+ status last week. GSP+ will be the most significant trade package offered to Pakistan from anywhere in the world. The UK spearheaded a comprehensive campaign stretching over several years to help Pakistan achieve this. This involved renegotiating the terms of GSP+ with our EU partners during 2012, ensuring Pakistan was eligible to apply for the scheme for the first time; and then worked in close partnership with the Pakistani government to ensure they made the changes necessary to meet the entry eligibility criteria.
Through the course of this year, in formal meetings, informal discussions, and general day-to-day contact, the UK has engaged hundreds of times with colleagues and opposite numbers in European capitals, Brussels, the European Commission and the European Parliament to ensure the application would be approved. UK Ministers, diplomats and UK MEPs mobilised their EU and international networks at each stage of the process to ensure this was the only decision that could be made.
Senior Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi said:
In my role as Minister for Pakistan over the last year I have visited Islamabad and Lahore, most recently with British business representatives, where I was struck by the diversity of businesses that are trading between our two nations, and the wealth of opportunity there is for business. 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 of State for Trade and Investment Lord Livingston said:
Pakistan and the UK have a close relationship and trade is at the heart of this relationship - Britain is the top European destination for exports from Pakistan. We are working together to deepen our partnership for the long-term and our Prime Ministers have set us an ambitious target to boost bilateral trade to £3bn by 2015.
Huge opportunity exists for British companies to export and grow in Pakistan - with a population of 185 million and there is strong demand for the high value products and services that the UK has to offer, especially among the growing middle class. 100 UK companies are already operating successfully in Pakistan and UK Trade & Investment, at home and through its offices in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore, exists to support more firms to export to or grow in Pakistan. I encourage you to explore the huge business opportunities in Pakistan.
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.
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