FAISALABAD -  Pakistan-US bilateral trade is increasing at a steady pace as the US exports stood at $2.1 billion during 2016 while its volume during first five months of this calendar year is $1.3 billion, said US Commercial Counselor Stephen P Knode.

While addressing a meeting of business community in Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) here on Thursday, he said that the US is trying its best to promote bilateral trade under its commercial diplomacy. "It is in this respect that the offices of commercial counselor have been shifted from Islamabad to Karachi as Karachi is the main hub of business and industrial activities followed by Faisalabad which is contributing 20 percent towards national GDP", he added.

He said that the US commercial service department has intensifies its efforts to provide guidance and facilitation to the new investors. He said, "During last five years, we are regularly organising Pakistan-US business opportunities conference." Last year, this conference was held in New York while it was organised in Islamabad in 2015. "This year we are expecting to arrange it once again in Pakistan", he said and added that it is for the first time that many Pakistani companies had opened their offices and outlets in America and the US commercial service department is fully helping them.

He said that American SME sector was also trying to invest in Pakistan and Pakistani entrepreneurs should select one of them to launch joint ventures. "It will not only provide them new technology and capital but also open new avenues for the export of their products. Responding to a question, about the challenges faces by the American companies in Pakistan, he said that these are the same as already experienced by the Pakistani investors. These include energy shortage, labour and security challenges etc.

He said that "Invest in America Summit" was organised last month in which many Pakistani companies also participated. Similarly, both countries will also exchange at least 20 trade delegations this year which will enhance understanding and better interaction between the businessmen of two countries. Stephen said that he will also remain in touch with the federal and provincial governments and municipal institutions to facilitate the new investors.

He also assured that steps are being taken to enhance greater access to Pakistani products in the US markets. He further said that the outlets of Pizza Hut in Pakistan are also being increased from 75 to 150. He asked Pakistani investors to exploit the investment opportunities available in America as US commercial service department was fully prepared to facilitate them.

Earlier, FCCI President Rana Sikandar-e-Azam said that Pakistan and US have been enjoying friendly relations despite of political upheavals during last six decades. He further said that in fiscal year 2016 bilateral trade stood at $5.72 billion that was in favour of Pakistan. Pakistan exported $3.62 billion worth of goods to the US while the US's exports to Pakistan stood at $2.10 billion. "We have capacity to increase this level that requires not only greater access to US markets but also transfer of technology", he added. He said that current global recession is affecting Pakistan's ability to increase its exports and investment inflows, hence the US should review its trade policy towards Pakistan and consider cutting tariffs on Pakistani textiles enabling it to compete in the American markets as compared to those developing countries that benefit from US tariff-reducing preference programmes, he said. “We expect further preferences from the US government under its GSP programme and Trade & Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA),” he added.