US evoy visits LCCI, offers support to mitigate energy crisis

US Consul General Zachary Harkenrider has said that his country is well aware of the energy crisis being faced by Pakistan and is ready to provide assistance in this regard.He was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LLCI) on Friday. LCCI President Ijaz A Mumtaz, Senior Vice-President Nauman Kabir and former president Irfan Qaiser Sheikh also spoke on the occasion.The US diplomat said most of the US assistance to Pakistan is focused on energy, which is a must for the economic growth of the country.

He said that there was a great scope for stronger trade and economic ties between the two countries and the private sector could play an important role in this regard.Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI president said that the US consulate was playing commendable role in developing working relations with various segments of the society in general and business community in particular.

Mumtaz urged the US consulate to start the visa processing facility at its Lahore office, as the Lahore-based business community has to go to Islamabad for obtaining visa from the US Embassy.He said that USA has been an important trading partner of Pakistan for decades, adding that Pakistan exported to the tune of $3.75 billion and imported goods worth $1.67 billion from USA in 2013.The LCCI president said there are few countries against which Pakistan experiences favourable balance of trade, adding that USA tops the list with a total worth of $2.1 billion.

He said considering the role that Pakistan has been playing for USA in various fields, the Pakistani business community expects greater access to the US market.Mumtaz said that more business-to-Business (B2B) are needed to exploit the untapped potential of trade, adding that frequent exchange of trade delegations is important.

He said that last year, a trade delegation from LCCI visited the US and the delegates had successful meetings with their American counterparts. He said that visits of delegations from US to Pakistan on reciprocal basis could play an important role to increase the mutual trade.The LCCI president said that Pakistan is currently facing challenges in retaining foreign direct investment (FDI) as well as attracting new investors to focus on Pakistan for investments. He urged the US consulate to play a positive role to promote investment in Pakistan.

The LCCI president said that the role of USAID in Pakistan is appreciable and it can also be taken as a model by the US-based investors. “Transfer of technology is another way to improve the current situation. Interaction of chambers of commerce of both countries can be instrumental in this connection,” he added.

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