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Philip Barton

British High Commissioner to Pakistan

Part of UK in Pakistan

7th July 2014 Islamabad, Pakistan

Improving trade is the key to Pakistan’s prosperity

When I first arrived in Pakistan, I said that strengthening trade and investment between the UK and Pakistan is my top priority. British Prime Minister Cameron and Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif, in their last meeting in London, pledged to increase bilateral trade and investment between our two countries to £3 billion by the end of 2015.

A revised Trade and Investment Roadmap sets out to further the trade and investment links between the UK and Pakistan. Our first aim is to make British businesses aware of the scale of the opportunities for doing business in Pakistan. The ongoing security challenges, seen most recently in the attacks on Karachi and Peshawar airports, make it harder – though not impossible – to showcase the positives Pakistan has to offer for prospective investors. The Pakistani Government is fully aware of this point. The ongoing security operations in Karachi and now North Waziristan are proof of their efforts to tackle insecurity in the country. There are already well over 100 British businesses operating in Pakistan who know that there are many advantages to doing business here. They should be a source of encouragement for others wanting to follow them. I see many successful British businesses in Karachi and throughout Punjab.

Recently I visited Sialkot. I was impressed by Sialkot’s business leaders, striving to boost Pakistan’s economic and trade links with the world. The innovative products manufactured by skilled artisans in the city are also famous around the UK, especially medical instruments and the Scottish bagpipes produced by M. H. Geoffrey & Company. Everybody also now knows the footballs in the 2014 World Cup came from Sialkot!

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I welcome signs of growth in Pakistan’s economy, helped by achieving GSP+ trading agreement status with the EU. I hope that this can also increase the level of trade between the UK and Pakistan. This is an important opportunity that should not be wasted. There are so many opportunities for Pakistan to become one of world’s leading developing economies. Last month, I met some bright Pakistani students from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) participating in the ‘Formula Student’ competition at the home of British Motorsports, the Silverstone Race Circuit in the UK. It is great news and I hope to see Pakistan’s role in the world of motor sports grow. Young Pakistani entrepreneurs are important to improving the country’s global competitiveness.

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The UK will continue to work with Pakistan, including through our development assistance, to support the implementation of key economic reforms. These will encourage increased growth and prosperity and enable foreign investment and trade. The UK is also working to help improving Pakistan’s trade competitiveness with an emphasis on reducing trade barriers between Pakistan and its neighbours.

And, as some of my Pakistani friends always tell me,

پاکستان کو امداد نہیں تجارت چاہیے

This is exactly what I and my colleagues are doing at the British mission, providing support to help improve the business environment in Pakistan, to drive growth, employment and trade. Later this year, I will open a new British Deputy High Commission in Lahore. This will help us even more to boost trade with Pakistan.


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