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Pakistan seems to be engaged actively in the commonwealth trade area. As Pakistani and Canadian contingents meet in Islamabad to improvise bilateral trade, British Deputy High Commissioner Steve Crossman has stressed on taking more steps to increase trade between Pakistan and the United Kingdom, which at present is very low against the immense potential. In the last corresponding year, it was $2.6 billion.

“There is need to build our trade capacity. Pakistan government should make trade and investment process easier and faster”, he said during his chat with local media in Karachi, where he attended a farewell hosted by Mundia Group of Industries on 9th February.

The British government has also doubled export financing from £200 million to £400 million, which is a significant figure, for British companies who are interested in doing business in Pakistan.

The British Deputy High Commissioner further said that there was a lot of room for improvement. He highlighted that there were a lot of factors that held back British investors such as Pakistan’s “negative” image, difficult licensing process for foreign companies and complex taxation procedures. He further commented on the law and order situation in Pakistan, which also ‘needs further improvement’.

The reception was attended by prominent business, political and social figures that were hosted by Chairman of Mundia Group M. Illyas Mundia and his son M. Basit Mundia. The outgoing deputy HC went on to criticize the Pakistani business grounds and procedures further.

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“People like big business. They want to invest here in SMEs. It takes months to start a business due to slow and complex process of completing formalities. Thus their cash flow gets stuck up,” he said, adding that unnecessary delays also created space for corruption. In a compensatory statement, he said that over 100 British companies were operating and doing well in Pakistan. More companies, Mr. Crossman foretold, might come in, if the investment and trade environment was made more attractive.

We will unilaterally agree to put those GSP Plus arrangements in place, which are positive in terms of strengthening UK-Pakistan trade ties and show UK’s strong commitment to expanding trade with Pakistan.

He said that the United Kingdom, like the rest of the world, wanted a prosperous and ‘stable’ Pakistan. Around 1.2 million Pakistanis are residing in the United Kingdom and are ‘contributing a lot to his country’s social and economic sectors’. “The people of Pakistani origin have even become members of [the] UK parliament”

Almost in a contradiction to his subordinate, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew said that during his short time in Pakistan, he has already seen good examples of British investment in various sectors all across the country.

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“The UK and Pakistan are partners with strong trade ties and many British businesses are operating in the country, but the establishment of British Business Centres in Pakistan recently is another step forward in building our trade relationship,” he said while addressing the business community at the Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).

He said that the British government has increased trade teams with footprints in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, which stresses on the importance the British government gives to strengthening trade relations with Pakistan. In a reassurance, he said that Brexit would not affect the UK’s trade ties with Pakistan. To tumultuous applause, the high commissioner said that soon British airways would start flight operations in Pakistan again. “We have suspended the flight operation due to unavoidable circumstances.”

As Pakistani and Canadian contingents meet in Islamabad to Improvise bilateral trade, British Deputy High Commissioner Steve Crossman has stressed on taking more steps to increase trade between Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

Speaking of women empowerment, he said, “UK actively supports increased participation of women in areas of trade and commerce.” Through the UK’s help, there has been an increase of six million micro-finance borrowers in Pakistan, more than 50% of who are women. “We are also supporting women to acquire new skills through our partnership with Punjab Skills Development Fund,” Drew said.

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The HC also said that UK’s government has also appointed Rehman Chishti, a British-Pakistani, as Prime Minister Theresa May’s trade envoy for Pakistan. Mr. Chishti, the HC commented, is very enthusiastic to strengthen trade relations between the two countries. On the other hand, the British government has also doubled export financing from £200 million to £400 million, which is a significant figure, for British companies who are interested in doing business in Pakistan.

Again, highlighting the British government’s commitment to enhancing ties, the commissioner said, “We will unilaterally agree to put those GSP Plus arrangements in place, which are positive in terms of strengthening UK-Pakistan trade ties and show UK’s strong commitment to expanding trade with Pakistan”.

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