ISLAMABAD - High Commissioner of Canada Perry John Calderwood has said that Pakistan and Canada have good potential to enhance cooperation in ICT, agriculture, energy, mining and other fields and private sectors of both countries have to play the leading role in exploiting these opportunities.

He said that Canada and Pakistan could complement each other in many areas by sharing expertise and developing partnerships. He said Canada was quite strong in oil & gas, hydro & solar power and Pakistan could benefit from its expertise to improve its energy generation. He was addressing the business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Calderwood said that Canada was an advanced economy and Pakistan could achieve better results by developing close cooperation with it. He said Canada was providing development assistance to Pakistan for women economic empowerment and added that the new development policy of Canada would also benefit Pakistan. He said Pakistan was a potential country for business and investment, but due to security concerns, Canadian investors were avoiding to visit Pakistan. However, he said the security situation was now improving and he was hopeful that it will help Canadian investors to explore Pakistan.

Khalid Iqbal Malik, President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that Pakistan and Canada enjoyed old friendly relations as they established diplomatic relations in 1947. However, bilateral trade of just over $1 billion in 2015 did not reflect the real potential of both countries. He said that trade in limited items was the main reason of low trade volume and stressed that both countries should focus on trade diversification to improve bilateral trade figure. He said that trade balance was in favor of Canada and it should enhance its imports from Pakistan as many Pakistan products could meet the needs of Canadian customers at affordable cost. He emphasized that Canadian businessmen should benefit from Pakistan’s IT-enabled services in animation and gaming, retail banking and finance, mobile content, document management and call centers.

ICCI President said that many sectors of Pakistan’s economy including oil & gas, infrastructure, power generation, information & communication technologies, mining, agro business, wood sector and science & technology offered great investment potential to Canadian companies and they should explore these sectors. He said Pakistan needed more oil rigs and mining equipment to exploit its vast natural resources and Canada should take benefit of these opportunities.

He said Canadian investors should also explore joint ventures and investment in CPEC projects in Pakistan. He said that Pakistani exporters have to face cumbersome visa formalities for attending trade fairs in Canada while its travel advisories discouraged Canadian businesspeople from visiting Pakistan.

Khalid Malik, Senior Vice President ICCI, welcomed Perry John Calderwood and introduced his profile to the business community. He urged that Canadian authorities should revisit business visa regime and travel advisory for Pakistan to facilitate more bilateral economic engagement between the private sectors of both countries.