FAISALABAD - The local business community should play its dynamic role to enhance Pak-UK bilateral trade to 3 billion pounds by the end of the current year, emphasised United Kingdom High Commissioner Philip Barton.

Addressing the business community at Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) here on Monday, Mr Barton said that more than 100 British companies were already working in Pakistan, adding that he would strive to convince others to come and invest in Pakistan.

The British HC also mentioned about the meeting between British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 2013, saying that efforts had already been expedited to enhance bilateral trade to 3 billion pound. He also expressed satisfaction over the increase in Pakistani exports to European Union after the grant of GSP Plus status.

To a question about education in British, the UK HC claimed that it was much cost effective as compared to education in American universities, adding that his country had also increased the number of educational scholarships for talented Pakistani students.

Commenting on the reopening of schools after the Army Public School's tragedy, Mr Barton paid best tribute to the courage of Pakistani students who were bravely facing the threats of terrorists.

He also mentioned his visit to Chenab Processing and said that this group was one of the largest exporters of home textile products from Pakistan. Chenab has the largest processing units in Pakistan with processing capacity of more than 70 million meters of fabric every year.

He said that this group had also been honoured by WWF for producing the most organic cotton bales in the world. Appreciated the dynamism of Faisalabad city, the UK HC said that this city was not only the backbone of Pakistan's textile production but was also birthplace of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan one of the greatest voices ever recorded.

On the occasion, in his welcome address, FCCI President Eng Rizwan Ashraf briefly touched upon the historic importance of Faisalabad and said that FCCI was playing a dynamic role in projecting businesses of this city.

He said that historically Faisalabad (formerly Known as Lyallpur) was developed as a Mandi town for a population of only 40,000 which was now bursting with economic and industrial activities.

The FCCI president said that Pakistan and UK shared longstanding cultural, historic and business ties. Over 100 British companies are currently doing businesses in Pakistan including big players such as Standard Chartered, Barkleys, GSK, Tony & Guys and Uniliver with high return of investments. "Pakistan is ranked by the World Bank in its ease of doing business index higher than Argentina, Brazil and India", he said and added that over 1.2 million British citizens had family connection with Pakistan and there were 1.4 million journeys annually between Pakistan and UK.  

He said that Pakistan and UK had already signed enhanced strategic dialogue in 2011 that was reviewed in 2012. Both countries agreed to implement Pakistan-UK Trade Investment Roadmap. The Roadmap in vis-à-vis actively pursuing joint activities in Trade and Investment promotion and improving Government to Government and Business to Business Interaction.

"In this respect the creation of UK-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce in Pakistan will compliment existing trade bodies in UK and develop business ties with such entities especially along sectoral lines including textile, R&D, energy, pharmaceutical, retail and services etc.

Engineer Rizwan Ashraf acknowledged the role of DFID in the overall development of Pakistan and requested British HC to allocate more funds for Faisalabad specific projects. He said that FCCI also intends to organize a trade delegation for UK in the month of February to attend spring fair to be held in Birmingham.  He requested him to facilitate the intending participants of delegation on top priority basis.

He also invited Philip Barton to attend Faisalabad-Expo to be organized by FCCI in the month of March.

During question-answer session, Mian Javed Iqbal, Mian Farhan Latif and Engineer Suhail Bin Rashid raised interesting questions which were well responded by the British High Commissioner.

Later Eng Rizwan Ashraf presented a memento of FCCI to British High Commissioner while Nadeem Allahwala senior vice president decorated him with FCCI badge. Mr Farooq Yusaf and Suhail Bin Rashid also presented personal gifts to Mr Philip Barton and Mr. Alexander political consular.