President ABF Mr. Rizwan Ullah Khan for 4th Annual Dinner 2014.
Your Excellency, Mr. Mamnoon Hussain, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Honorable Governor of Punjab, Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar Honorable Minister for Science & Technology, Zahid Hamid Members of the American Business Forum,Dear Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen.Asalam aleikum and a very good evening.It is an honor for me to welcome you all to the 4 th annual dinner of the American Business Forum. The Forum is especially deeply obliged to His Excellency, the President of Pakistan for taking time out to be here with us tonight. His presence is a testament to the deep relationship, extending over several decades,between American businesses and Pakistan, between our governments and indeed, between the people of the two countries.The U.S. has consistently remained Pakistan’s largest trade partner. In 2012, the United States accounted for 13.0% of the country’s exports, the most to any country. The Bilateral trade between the United States and Pakistan exceeded $5 billion.The US is also one of the top sources of foreign direct investment to Pakistan, with $223 million investment in year 2012.
Talking about the ABF itself, it is a business forum representing American companies conducting business in Pakistan, and is a relatively young entity of 4 years. But I believe that even in this short period, the ABF has successfully pursued its Vision,which is: “To be a leading advocacy forum in Pakistan focusing on socio-economic opportunities and developing bilateral linkages between people, businesses and governments.” With clear objectives going forward for ABF which are…
1) To provide a sound platform to American Businesses in Pakistan, for smooth business functioning, by providing knowledge and understanding of core business opportunities
2) To work closely with U.S embassy and Government of Pakistan to promote mutual business interests
3) To facilitate Foreign Direct Investment in Pakistan, by initiating multi-level dialogue
4) To work as ambassadors of Pak-US businesses, within and outside Pakistan
5) to actively engage in community development projects in the country, focusing on education, environment and health.Representing no less than 42 American businesses in Pakistan,the ABF is a significant contributor to the socio-economic growth of Pakistan. Here, please allow me to mention just 3 examples.
1. ABF provides direct employment to 15,000 people and indirect to over 45,000 people.
2. Billions of rupees are paid in duties and taxes every year.
3. In the next 2 to 3 years, we expect new FDI of 350 to 400 million dollars in Pakistan by ABF member companies.
We, at ABF, see Pakistan as a land of great opportunity, both at the present and in the future. Pakistan with approximately 182 million people is the 6 th most populaces country in the world today and the population is expected to reach 225 million by year 2020. Of this total, the youth will comprise of 140 million and the middle class will account for 50 million people.But in order to transcribe Pakistan truly into a land of opportunity we must have a holistic understanding of the challenges that lie in front of us and devise a multi-dimensional strategy to address these challenges.At ABF we feel that there are 2 sets of challenges in Pakistan that need to be addressed, before we could attract major investment over the coming decade; and these are
- Basic Challenges
- Bigger Challenges
The basic challenges, such as Good Governance, Writ of State and Rule of Law, are the necessary building blocks to address the bigger challenges. These basic challenges are very important to be addressed for the business community as well as for the nation to progress to become an economic powerhouse or what Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated “Asian Tiger” Now coming to Bigger Challenges; and these are
1) Law & Order – without addressing the law and order situation, we will not be able to achieve the full potential of this country
2) Energy Crisis: Every year Pakistan’s GDP growth is affected by 2-3% due to energy shortage. For us to be competitive, we need to come up with affordable and sustainable energy solutions
3) Economic uplift: In our view – major social and public sector reforms are required. New policy framework needs to be devised in strategic consultation with all stakeholders with clear road map for the next 10 years.
4) Broadening of tax base through much-needed reforms on sectors that are currently exempted