Third Pak-US Business Opportunities Conference concluded on Wednesday wherein USAID announced $60 million as development credit support availability through four Pakistani banks, which will provide loan capital to underserved businesses to help them expand, create jobs and increase revenues.

As part of the third Pak-US Business Opportunities Conference, the United States government launched the US-Pakistan Partnership for Access to Credit program. Donald Larry Sampler, Assistant to the Administrator in the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), inaugurated the programme, which will provide credit to qualified micro, small and medium-sized Pakistani businesses.

USAID through the US-Pakistan Partnership for Access to Credit programme has partnered with the local banks to provide up to $60 million in loan capital to micro, small and medium businesses. The programme partners USAID with four Pakistani banks: Bank Alfalah Limited, JS Bank Limited, Khushhali bank Limited, and First Micro Finance Bank Limited. “Small businesses face challenges to growth, not just here in Pakistan, but in the United States as well. One of the key challenges to small businesses everywhere is access to credit.  Businesses require capital to grow and expand, but far too often, loans are difficult to come by, particularly for smaller businesses,” said Sampler, who is visiting Pakistan for the conference.  

The two-days ‘Third Pak-US Business Opportunities Conference’ was concluded on Wednesday, as Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan and Ambassador of the United States Richard Olson attended the closing session of the conference. More than 300 conference participants attended presentations regarding investment opportunities and financing options in Pakistan. The conference featured testimonials from US and Pakistani companies regarding the Pakistani business climate. US and Pakistani companies from various sectors were represented, including textiles, agriculture, information and communication technology (ICT), healthcare, energy, and infrastructure.  The conference also featured a roundtable discussion for women entrepreneurs, highlighting the importance of integrating more women into the economy.

In his concluding remarks, Federal Minister for Commerce, Khurram Dastgir said that Pakistan is on the verge of economic take-off and the projected GDP growth rate for Pakistan in the next few years is 4-6 %. He said that the government is making policies to reduce the cost of doing business and increase the ease of doing business in the country. He apprised the audience that there are 600 multinational companies working in Pakistan whose businesses are flourishing and most of them are expanding their businesses. The minister said that a number of major US corporations and businesses have a long history of association with Pakistan, and boast an extremely good return on their investments.

Dastgir said that in the past Pakistan’s pace of integration into the global economy was slow but the country is fast catching-up. He said that the government wants to make export sector as an engine of growth for the country as done by several recently developed economies. To achieve this aim, the country has to enhance export competitiveness in short as well as long term and increase cumulative exports, he said. He further said that the government is bringing regulatory amendments in the trade regulations, strengthening institutions, improving governance and introducing measures to enhance export competitiveness.

Ambassador Richard G Olson said, “While today marks the conclusion of the conference, hopefully it is also the beginning of new business relationships, professional collaborations, and investments. May the connections you have made here continue to flourish.”  He re-affirmed the commitment of the United States, saying: “We are advancing our shared goals in support of peace, prosperity, and stability for Pakistan, the United States, and this entire region. We will continue to work with the government and with all of you to realize the full economic potential of Pakistan.” Ambassador Olson also noted that the presence of U.S. Commerce Secretary Pritzker underscored the seriousness of the United States’ commitment to building a stronger economic relationship with Pakistan.

Earlier, Minister of State for Privatization Mohammad Zubair said that Pakistan provides golden opportunities for the investors through its privatization program as the investors can make profits instantly after the acquisition.

The representatives from the four provinces presented the investment opportunities that their respective provinces provide to the investors. Attention of the investors was brought to the 176 million tonnes of proven reserves of coal which are sufficient for production of 100 000 MW of electricity for 300 years. The investment opportunities in hydel electricity production in KP were also brought to the notice of the delegates. Opportunities in Balochistan in mining, electricity production and farming were presented.