MUZAFFARGARH-British High Commissioner in Pakistan Thomas Drew CMG said that people settled in UK would have to disclose their sources of income if they enjoying luxurious life.

"The British law does not allow concealing or disguising property includes concealing or disguising its nature, source, location, disposition, movement or ownership, or any rights with respect to it."

Thomas Drew CMG stated during his visit to the residence of Mrs Hina Rubbani Khar, former foreign minister, here on Saturday. The UK HC stressed the need for further improving trade relations between Pakistan and UK, saying that strengthening bilateral ties is one of his top priorities. Mr Drew CMG said that British airways would soon start flight operation in Pakistan.

"We have suspended the flight operation due to unavoidable circumstances.

While highlighting the British government's commitment, he said, "We will unilaterally agree to put those GSP Plus arrangements in place which is going to be a very positive step in terms of strengthening UK-Pakistan trade ties and it shows UK's strong commitment and desire to expand trade with Pakistan."

He said during his short time in Pakistan, he has already seen good examples from Karachi to Islamabad of British investment in a variety of sectors. He said, "The UK and Pakistan are partners having strong trade ties and many British businesses are operating in Pakistan. But the establishment of the British Business Centres in Pakistan recently is another step forward in building our trade relationship."

"We have increased our trade teams with presence in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, which is the sign of the importance that we give to strengthening trade relations with Pakistan," he added. He said that UK government had also appointed Rehman Chishti, a Pakistani, as the British prime minister's trade envoy for Pakistan who is very enthusiastic to strengthen trade relations between the two countries. The British government has also doubled Export Financing from 200 million pounds to 400 million pounds, which is a significant figure, for British companies who are interested in doing business in Pakistan, he said.

"We are doing a lot on our side to encourage UK firms to explore good opportunities in Pakistan and increase their businesses in Pakistan," he added. He said business relationship between the UK and Pakistan was important to the prosperity of both the countries. He said he wanted it to continue to grow. There were already a large number of British companies operating in Pakistan with many more working here through Pakistani agents and distributors, he detailed. He said part of his role was to stimulate more business in both directions. He said the newly launched British Business Centre would be a great asset in doing so. He said there were exciting times for Pakistan and for our trade relationship. Increased levels of security, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects and growing UK-Pakistan business links were all laying the foundations for a transformation within Pakistan's business sector, he said, and added that would be the cornerstone for economic growth across the country.

He said that Pakistan enjoyed friendly relations with the UK, but that was not truly reflected in their economic affairs. He said that the UK was extending the best possible facilities in the field of education and vocational training which would certainly give a quantum jump to economic activities in Pakistan. He said that his country was cooperating with the Punjab government in the field of education to bring about a positive socio-economic change in the province. He said that many UK-based companies were already working in Pakistan and many were planning to make new investment particularly in the wake of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

He said, "The UK actively supports the increased participation of women in the area of trade and commerce. UK help, through the State Bank of Pakistan, has already resulted in an increase of six million micro-finance borrowers in Pakistan, more than 50 percent of whom are women. We are also supporting women to acquire new skills through our partnership with Punjab Skills Development Fund, he said. At the same time, the UK's support through Benazir Income Support Programme will help the poor women in remote regions of Pakistan, the high commissioner added.

Referring to concerns expressed over issuance of visas, he said that all these concerns were 'misconceptions'. "Visa applications for Pakistanis are not decided in India as Visa Centre continues to operate from Abu Dhabi," he said. Reacting to concerns expressed over Indian nationals deciding visa applications submitted by Pakistanis, he said that anyone, including Pakistanis and Indian nationals, working at the Visa Centre in Abu Dhabi work under British values, British standards and British rules so there is absolutely no bias in the entire visa application process.

"We don't want the legitimate businessmen and legitimate students being unable to travel to UK," he added.

In her welcome address, Hina Rubani said that Pakistan and UK have good potential to promote bilateral trade and both the countries should facilitate private sector in developing strong connectivity to explore all untapped areas of mutual cooperation. She said economy of Pakistan offered tremendous investment opportunities in its various sector. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project was posed to create more opportunities for investment and joint ventures because there cheap and efficient labour was available, she maintained.

She said British High Commission should apprise UK investors about investment potential in Pakistan particularly in South Punjab so that they could take benefit by investing in our country. She said bilateral trade between Pakistan and UK was yet below their true potential and assured that Pakistani would like to work closely with British High Commission to take two-way trade to higher levels.

She said, "More than 100 UK companies have been operating in Pakistan and many of them have also undertaken joint ventures but we are not where should have been. We should have been too far from where we stand today in terms of business and trade."

Hina said that there should be exchange of trade delegations in the "Made-in Pakistan" Exhibition to be held in October 2018 in London. Both the countries should facilitate frequent exchange of trade delegations to explore untapped areas of mutual cooperation, she added. She said Pakistan was emerging as a potential market for business and investment due to CPEC and other rising sectors. She stressed that UKPCCI should convince maximum Pakistani investors in UK to bring technology and investment to Pakistan in the areas of their interest.

Brexit not to impact trade with Pakistan

Multan-Stressing the need for further improving trade and economic relations between Pakistan and UK, British High Commissioner Thomas Drew CMG assured the business community that Brexit would not impact trade with Pakistan.Addressing the members of Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) here on Saturday, he said that arrangements to facilitate Pakistan to do trade under GSP plus status would be put in place. He said that the operation of British Airways was suspended due to unavoidable circumstances and it would be resumed.

He said during his short time in Pakistan, he had already seen good examples of British investment in difference sectors from Karachi to Islamabad. "The UK and Pakistan are partners having strong trade ties and many British businesses are operating in Pakistan. But the establishment of the British Business Centres in Pakistan recently is another step forward in building our trade relationship," he pointed out. He pointed out that the number of trade teams in Pakistan has risen with their presence in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, which is the sign of UK's interest in boosting trade ties with Pakistan.

He said that UK government has also appointed Rehman Chishti, a Pakistani descent, as Prime Minister's Trade Envoy for Pakistan who is very enthusiastic to strengthen trade relations between the two countries whereas the British government has also doubled Export Financing from 200 million pounds to 400 million pounds, which is a significant figure, for British companies who are interested in doing business in Pakistan.

He said part of his role was to stimulate more business in both directions and newly launched British Business Centre would be a great asset in doing so. He was of the opinion that increased levels of security, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects and growing UK-Pakistan business links were all laying the foundations for a transformation within Pakistan's business sector. He pointed out that the UK was extending the best possible facilities in the field of education and vocational training which would certainly give a quantum jump to economic activities in Pakistan. He said that his country was cooperating with the Punjab government in the field of education to bring about a positive socio-economic change in the province. He said that many UK-based companies were already working in Pakistan and many were planning to make new investment particularly in the wake of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

He said that the UK supported the increased participation of women in the area of trade and commerce and UK help, through the State Bank of Pakistan, had already resulted in an increase of six million micro-finance borrowers in Pakistan, more than 50 percent of whom were women." We are also supporting women to acquire new skills through our partnership with Punjab Skills Development Fund," he added. At the same time, the UK's support through Benazir Income Support Programme will help the poorest women in remotest regions of Pakistan, he hoped.

Referring to concerns expressed over issuance of visas, he said that all these concerns were 'misconceptions'. "Visa applications for Pakistanis are not decided in India as Visa Center continues to operate from Abu Dhabi", he said. Reacting to concerns expressed over Indian nationals deciding visa applications submitted by Pakistanis, he assured that anyone, including Pakistanis and Indian nationals, working at the Visa Center in Abu Dhabi work under British Values, British Standards and British Rules so there is absolutely no bias in the entire visa applications process."We don't want the legitimate businessmen and legitimate students being unable to travel to UK", he added.