ISLAMABAD: US can provide assistance to Pakistan in the energy sector and the details of projects where economic cooperation can be enhanced are being worked on, said US Secretary Commerce Wilbur Ross.
Ross said this in a meeting with Adviser to PM on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh during his visit to Islamabad, which came in the backdrop of talks between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump to boost economic engagements.
Speaking on the occasion, Shaikh said that Pakistan and the United States had maintained a durable relationship over the years and there was a need to strengthen it further.
“The arrival of the delegation from the commerce sector is good news for Pakistan and will have positive consequences for the country,” he said. “This comes at a time when the government is looking forward to a major boost in exports after offering concessions to the export-oriented sectors.”
The adviser added that Pakistan was making efforts to carve out a new progressive image in the world.
He added that the country made all-out efforts to follow the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) action plan to a significant level and also opened its markets to foreign investors by providing ease of doing business.
“Now, we are trying to build our image as a tourism and investment friendly country in the region,” he said.
The adviser further pointed out that the government was trying to revive the economy through stabilisation reforms and inviting foreign investment in the country.
However, Shaikh highlighted that rising prices of food items and energy commodities coupled with slow revenue generation were major concerns.
He added that the volume of trade between the two countries stood at a mere $7 billion and stressed urgent need to enhance it to help steer GDP growth in Pakistan.
He voiced hope that healthy interactions between the two sides will continue in future as well.
Meeting with commerce adviser
Separately, in a meeting with Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Industries and Production and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, US Secretary Commerce discussed issues related to bilateral trade and enhanced market access for Pakistan.
The adviser told the visiting delegation that after achieving economic stability, the government was now focusing on job creation and export augmentation by encouraging foreign investments.
He suggested that this was high time for US companies to invest in Pakistan.
He also discussed the issue of early convening of the long awaited 9th session of Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) meeting.
The two sides also pondered over the issue of visit of US business delegation to Pakistan to participate in the Business Opportunities Conference aimed at forging a better networking among the private sectors of both countries.
The adviser stressed that the US International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC) should help in developing of new businesses in Pakistan.
Ross said that his visit to Pakistan was part of his government’s desire to increase trade relations with Pakistan.
He also believed that such links between both the counties would not only enhance trade but also encourage further deepening of ties in all fields of economic engagement. About IDFC’s assistance, Ross sounded positive and suggested that the Ministry of Commerce should propose projects in this regard.
The US official also called on Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan. The power minister gave Ross an overview of Pakistan’s energy sector and the present government’s earnest attempts of reforming the sector.
Khan called for additional US investment in the untapped areas of energy sector such as power generation, transmission and distribution, artificial intelligence, renewable energy, hydel energy and training opportunities.
The minister also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to cleaner fuels and green energy.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar briefed the visiting delegation on key actions taken to improve ease of doing business in Pakistan.
He also briefed the commerce secretary regarding how higher US investments could be incremental in improving business relations between the US and Pakistan.