Washington, DC - The Government of the United States and the Government of Pakistan convened the fourth annual U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference on June 2-3 in New York City. Hundreds of U.S. and Pakistani business leaders joined government officials to explore commercial opportunities and expand business-to-business linkages. The 2016 conference, the first to be held in the United States, built upon President Barack Obama’s and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s October 2015 commitment to expand bilateral trade and investment.
Pakistani Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews led the two countries’ delegations. The senior officials noted their optimism for the U.S.-Pakistan partnership, reiterating that economic cooperation and strong commercial ties are essential. Featured as the conference’s corporate keynote speaker, General Electric Vice Chairman John Rice addressed the business and investment climate in Pakistan.
Throughout the conference, government and private sector representatives discussed trade and investment opportunities with a particular focus on fashion apparel, health care, information communication technology, agriculture, and women’s economic empowerment. Panelists shared their perspectives on trade and investment opportunities, doing better business in Pakistan through increased familiarity with regulations, and ways to increase gender diversity in employment.
U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Cathy Russell and Pakistani Ministry of Commerce Additional Secretary Robina Ather announced a joint action plan which outlines concrete steps to advance women’s economic participation and entrepreneurship. Under the plan, Pakistan will organize its first Women in the Economy Forum and its first nationwide “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” to raise awareness of and increase career opportunities for women.
Other conference speakers included Fred Hochberg, Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States; Jalil Jilani, Pakistani Ambassador to the United States; Richard Olson, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan; Donald “Larry” Sampler, Assistant to the Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs; Naheed Memon, Sindh Board of Investment Chairperson; and Ziad Haider, U.S. State Department’s Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs.
A networking reception hosted by the U.S.-Pakistan Business Council on June 2 highlighted the April 2016 launch of the Pakistan Private Investment Initiative and facilitated additional business linkages among conference participants. The Pakistan Private Investment Initiative is a partnership between USAID and three private equity fund managers to invest over $150 million in capital to help Pakistani businesses grow and create jobs.