NEW YORK: Pakistan and the United States signed an action plan on Saturday on women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment as the two countries ended a major business conference here.
The action plan was signed by the US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Catherine Russell, and Pakistan’s Additional Secretary of Commerce Robina Ather at a simple ceremony on the sidelines of the two-day US-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference, which was aimed at building business-to-business linkages between US and Pakistani businesses and to generate networking opportunities for them.
Among those present at the ceremony were Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan, who led the Pakistan delegation to the conference and US Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews, who headed the American delegation.
The action plan stems from a US-Pakistan Memorandum of Understanding to enable women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship. A key aspect will be a ‘Women in the Economy Forum’ that consults and mobilises private-public partnerships from both countries to coordinate and formulate recommendations.
The two-day conference, the fourth in a series, was the first to be held in the US. The previous conferences took place in London, Dubai and Islamabad.About 300 industry representatives, investors, and government leaders from the two countries as well as emerging professionals and entrepreneurs attended the conference held in CitiCorp building in mid-town Manhattan.
At a press conference, Khurram Dastagir Khan said that the the fourth business conference was a “manifestation of that commitment” made by the two leaders. US-Pakistan ties, he added, would mature and deepen in the years ahead.
Replying to a question, he said the Pakistani farmers’ difficulties stem from falling international commodity prices as they could not sell their produce.
Moreover, Pakistan’s agriculture suffered from lack of modern technology, and this problem is being addressed by the government.
In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews highlighted that the conference was a special opportunity to build new commercial ties that would strengthen the economic link between the US and Pakistan and make this kind of economic cooperation a lasting institution.
“American firms are excited about doing more business in Pakistan and for good reason, too,” he said, adding that Pakistan has the world’s sixth largest population. Of its 196 million residents, two-thirds were under the age of 30, “Clearly, this is an attractive market with many strategic advantages and there is enormous room for growth,” Andrews said.
“Yet Pakistan still faces unique challenges in today’s global economy.”
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2016