LAHORE - US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W Patterson has said that despite economic and security challenges, Pakistans economy is growing with great potential for investment. She said Pakistans economy stabilised after it signed agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 'Pakistan has great potential for foreign investment, particularly in IT, gas exploration, food processing and power generation sectors, Patterson said while addressing the inauguration ceremony of American Business Forum (ABF) here at a local hotel on Thursday. Leading businessmen, govt officials and media personalities were also present on this occasion. Federal Minister for Investment Senator Waqar Ahmed, Senior Adviser to Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Zulifqar Ali Khosa, Principal Officer of the US Consulate in Lahore Brian D Hunt and Rizwan U. Khan the first President of the ABF also spoke on this occasion. Editor The Nation Arif Nizami and Editor daily Pakistan Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami besides others also attended. The Ambassador said the US Congress would soon approve the bill related to the establishment of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZ) in Pakistan and Afghanistan to allow a preferential trade programme. 'I hope it will be passed soon and once it is passed, it would provide new opportunities for investors, Patterson added. According to her, the US, Pakistans largest trade and investment partner, would continue to work together with Pakistan. Patterson also regretted the fact that Pakistan is now facing humanitarian crisis as its military is engaged in war against militants. She said that the US has pledged $110 million assistance for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). 'Historically, the US is the largest investor in Pakistan with $1.3 billion direct investment last year and $705 million during the first nine months of this year, Patterson maintained. About the launch of American Business Forum, she said, 'the establishment of ABF is a positive signal and we welcome this initiative. The ABF can play an important role in strengthening relations between Pakistan and the US. She said the US wanted to enhance Pak-US trade. Federal Minister for Investment Waqar Ahmed Khan said the govt of Pakistan was committed to root out the menace of terrorism from the country once for all. According to him, the present political leadership has the support of all the stakeholders. He said the govt is introducing legislation about investment in a bid to facilitate the foreign investors and to address their problems that would be presented to the National Assembly and the Senate as well. 'We will take all the political parties into confidence in this regard, he asserted. Speaking on behalf the Chief Minister Punjab on this occasion, Senior Adviser to CM Sardar Zulifqar Ali Khosa said the US has defence and diplomatic relations with Pakistan rather than economic. Meanwhile, addressing the ceremony, Rizwan U. Khan, Country Manager of Coca-Cola and the first President of the ABF highlighted the extensive and historical ties between US-origin businesses and Pakistan. He announced that his company has pledged Rs 20 million donations for the Internally Displaced Persons of Malakand division. He pointed out that the US by itself takes up 25 per cent of Pakistans total exports. He said that the US businesses in Pakistan have made substantial contributions over several decades to the Pakistans economy, in terms of investment, contribution to the national exchequer in the form of taxes and duties, creation of direct and indirect employment, transfer of technology, human resource capacity building, growth impetus to vendor industries and even as being a catalyst for other foreign investment. He also called upon Pakistan govt to effectively address various problems being faced by US businesses in Pakistan, like violations of intellectual property rights being one of the biggest threats to both existing business and to future investment. The ABF already boasts of over of 30 US-origin companies working in Pakistan as its members and this number is expected to grow. The companies cover a wide range of sectors, including food and beverages, information technology, pharmaceutical and engineering. Some, like Coca-Cola, have been doing business in Pakistan for over 50 years. It is important to mention here that the ABF has been established to be a representative body of all those US origin businesses in Pakistan, who choose to become members and who are duly awarded the membership, and especially those US businesses that are located in the northern half of the country. The ABF will pro-actively promote growth of trade, commerce and business between Pakistan and the US. It will support and protect in all possible ways, the business interests of the members before the govt, corporate sector, not-for-profit institutions, other legal entities and the general public. It will also help create greater understanding and empathy for US businesses in Pakistan with all audiences and stakeholders.