KARACHI - “US cares deeply about promoting Pakistan’s economic development and it is an avowed desire that Pakistan soon moves out of being a developing nation depended on GSP or preferential concessions to increase trade. Preferential trade should not be the goal but the means to establish brands and move upwards. This was stated by US Consul General Michael Dodman while addressing the members of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry at a luncheon meeting in KCCI.The US diplomat, who was accompanied by Anu Prattipati, Jonathan Ward, and Cara Babrowski from the Economic and Commercial Office, added that the targeted focus would be on energy, especially for the benefit of education, businesses and individuals. Recently, USAID help launch a programme to improve the electric pumps so that the benefits could soon filter down for overall benefit. Dodman also stated that USTR helped in organising US-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference in London in association with BoI where focus was on investment, especially in the energy sector. There was an unusually plenty of interest in the possibilities of investing in Pakistan. The presence of senior officials from both the countries further created the critical mass in making this conference effective. An important financing agreement for power sector was also inked during this conference and, at the same time, the participants were made aware of the facilitation tools available to the investors.The American Consul General also informed that the Pakistan Private Investment Initiative Fund would also be a game changer as it will pool funds from the US government as well as the private sector and would be implemented and managed by USAID. This Fund would target and assist the SME sector and should be extremely beneficial for it. The response from Pakistan’s equity-based funds and financial institutions was very positive and many proposals have already been received. Dodman also said that the Bilateral Investment Treaty would soon be signed after eight years of negotiations. Once signed, the treaty would be sent to Congress for final approval. BIT provides assurances and additional level of security for US investors and should send important positive signals to them that Pakistan, with a young population, has immense potential.The US Consul General applauded the initiative of KCCI to form Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Mumbai Karachi Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry and termed these as active road-building ventures promoting Karachi as the Gateway to Afghanistan and Central Asia as well as promoting intra-regional trade and investment. He also complimented KCCI for its role in promoting the Karachi-Houston Sister-Chapter Agreement. He was hopeful that KCCI would play a strong role in improving the image of Karachi and Pakistan all over the world, especially in USA. He said the image issue is multi-faceted and there are travel advisories but he assured the businessmen that he would personally take a closer look into these and would use his influence in this regard. He, however, stated that improving image is the mission of the business community, not foreign diplomats.He also agreed that the new US Ambassador should visit KCCI and meet the members during his first trip to Karachi after his arrival in Islamabad in late November.On a personal note, he disclosed that “I wanted to come to Karachi as I am sure I can, with the support of my team, help make a change in the US-Pakistan relationship in the future.”Siraj Kassam Teli, Chairman Businessmen Group, explained the workings of the Chamber and also said that this has been the only Chamber to send two high powered delegations to United States to meet officials and businessmen there. He strongly asserted that KCCI has been in the forefront in highlighting the positive aspects of Karachi and Pakistan. One such step has been the holding of My-Karachi Exhibition every year in Karachi. Moreover, when the situation is worse in many countries, there has been plenty of US investment and visits while Karachi has always suffered negative travel advisories and warnings. He advised that Consul General to take up this issue with Washington. Earlier, President KCCI Haroon Agar, while welcoming the guest, pointed the dynamics of bilateral trade and investment. He enumerated certain sectors that should interest US businessmen and also help in improving the image as well as the business climate in Karachi. He also talked about the various initiatives undertaken to bring about betterment in bilateral relations.