“PAK UK BUSINESS COUNCIL – PUKBC" (officially registered under Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry) has elected a dynamic board of directors, placing extreme importance on improving trade and business ties between Pakistan and United Kingdom. Our members include reputable businesses of Pakistan comprising of listed companies, private companies, partnerships, traders and sole proprietors and start-ups. Membership numbers have grown significantly since activation of this forum. Our members include major exporters of Pakistan.

PUKBC is working on exploring possibilities of improving business and investment relations between the two countries. The council identifies areas of co-operation, where both business communities benefit. PUKBC provides a forum for readily exchange of business friendly information on investment and trade opportunities both in UK and Pakistan. Members of PUKBC are facilitating joint ventures with a view towards suggesting ways for improving investments in both countries.

Below are some achievements of PUKBC of FPCCI:

— Pak-UK Business Council (PUKBC) of FPCCI established relations with British Businesses (signing of a formal MOUs with British Chambers, Pak-Britain and Scotland Business Councils and UKPCCI). We have also connected with UK's major regional chambers such as GMCC, East Lancashire Chambers, dialogue with Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and important stakeholders. PUKBC's initiatives were facilitated with the help of FPCCI secretariat.

— PUKBC has hosted several business delegation from UK at FPCCI offices. The council with the help of FPCCI's secretariat also facilitates businesses for holding B2Bs and connecting them with appropriate businesses on both sides. A good example of this is arrangement of meetings for UKPCCI and PBBC delegation. Council has also facilitated meetings for other businesses like University of Bradford among others by connecting them to Pakistani Institutes / Businesses.

— Took up matters such as Goods returned issue due to infestation providing detailed feedback to concerned authorities and stakeholders.

— Enhanced Member numbers to over 100 members to ensure representation from non-represented sectors (some of our invited members include: Hamdard Pakistan, fashion houses like Sana Safinaz, TPL Trakker, Day Fresh among others).

— PUKBC Facilitated visit of British Delegates to Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX).

— Initiated two successful UK Trade Delegations of PUKBC (one in September 2017 and the other in October 2018) comprising of over 20 members each time.

— Conducted high profiled networking event in London at Pakistan High Commission – London (inviting representatives from London Mayors Office, DIT, supermarket buyers and other businesses).

— PUKBC held introductory meetings in UK encouraging businesses (especially overseas Pakistani to invest in Pakistan).

— Our Trade Delegations have included representatives of SECP and BOI to deliver a consistent message directly to British Businesses on the facilitation being provided by Pakistani authorities.

— Conducted first official trade seminar with Dept of Intl' Trade – UK (in Manchester). This initiative was pending for several years.

— PUKBC invited and hosted reps of Yorkshire Business Association, who visited Pakistan. PUKBC facilitated their B2B meetings with relevant stakeholders and facilitated them with company incorporation information.

— PUKBC met with London Mayor's office and DIT UK for enhanced Trade and investment share for Pakistan on flexible terms to encourage business between both sides.

— Initiated dialogue with UBL UK encouraging them to resolve banking issues for Pakistani Businesses based in UK.

— Established contacts with several chambers and Overseas Pakistani community in UK (example: held collective sessions with East Lancashire Chambers of Commerce & Industry and Liverpool overseas Pakistani Community to name a few).

— Delegation also held meetings with counterparts in Manchester, Liverpool, Northeast and Scotland.

— PUKBC gave Pakistani Businesses opportunities to meet with UK policy makers and tell them about the opportunities that Pakistan has to offer.

— PUKBC took up custom related issues to facilitate British Businesses in Pakistan. This was done through introduction of experts with Customs background as representative on PUKBC.

— Our session with East Lancashire Chambers of Commerce was of particular importance. PUKBC delegates felt that this was one of the most productive sessions that we had during our interaction with the UK businesses. I am pleased to tell you that we have already started connecting UK businesses with Pakistani counterparts.

— Few examples: PUKBC connected companies like Silmed (Healthcare equipment manufacturers with Helix Pharma of Pakistan and The Searle Company of Pakistan Ltd). We have also linked Blankencare with Pakistani businesses. PUKBC is also facilitating the Fellows from Cambridge University who were present at East Lancashire Chambers with Pakistani Manufacturers. PUKBC received informal request for assistance with company incorporation and feel this is a visible achievement of Business Council's efforts.

— PUKBC also interacted with various educational institutes in UK and floated proposals to extend our educational ties with them. We also held an interactive session with overseas Pakistanis in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

— Our interaction with the Scottish Overseas Pakistani Business community was extremely useful. Overseas Pakistanis in Scotland are extremely keen on developing stronger investment ties with Pakistan however they were concerned about Pakistan's inconsistent policies, safe custody of their assets and the rising cost of doing business in Pakistan. PUKBC conveyed a very strong message to overseas Pakistani in Scotland that Pakistan is Open for Business and we wish to resolve any bottlenecks relating to customs, asset protection, remittances, increasing cost of doing business.

— Our meeting with Scottish Government went very well. PUKBC has already linked Curriculo Solutions Ltd (participant of this event) with various Pakistani schools. Our delegates are in the process of further evaluating business opportunities with UK counterparts within their own fields.

— PUKBC connected UK business Attock Network Products Ltd Lancashire to Jewellers in Pakistan.

— As a follow-up of our Trade Delegation to UK, we have already hosted several businessmen from UK, who have visited Pakistan (some prominent figures including President of Yorkshire Business Association, President UKPCCI among many others).

— PUKBC has also connected Safe Group (part of Fecto Group in Pakistan) for sourcing equipment (like elevators, conveyor belts etc) from UK – Alan Rides (Hounslow Chamber).

— PUKBC is also connecting incoming UK businesses by facilitating them to establish their presence in Pakistan.

— PUKBC has also been facilitating British Businesses by providing them adequate support on the ground in Pakistan.

The Council in-collaboration with FPCCI secretariat is working on negotiating market access for Pakistani businesses with Greater Manchester Chambers of Commerce (GMCC) – an initiative that will enhance trade between Pakistani and UK Businesses. Our future plans also include initiatives of a major Pakistan Expo in UK in coming years. and has set up a dedicated Committee to come up with proposals by engaging major export houses of Pakistan.

PUKBC is also planning to host representatives of UK's financial services sector to encourage them to visit Pakistan especially UK's major Asset Management companies / funds. PUKBC provides a pivotal link in strengthening of bilateral relations for Promotion of trade and economic cooperation through inflow of investments with our UK counterparts. PUKBC is also opening avenues for UK Businesses to explore Pakistan's emerging markets.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019