Canada-Pakistan Business Council organized an exclusive luncheon for Minister for International Trade, Sandra Pupatello at Bayview Golf and Country Club. In attendance were companies such as SNC-Lavalin, Centennial College, Sasco Global Investment, Bombardier, Pace Law Firms etc. Distinguished individuals among others included Consul General of Pakistan, Tassaduq Hussain, PIA’s Country Manager Syed Rehan Ahmed, Sinclair Stevens, Mrs. Faiza Batta of IFC, Gerry Weiner, Imtiaz Seyid, VP of RBC, Bill Whittaker, president of law society of Toronto, and James Moffatt, vice president of the Board of Trade Toronto.
After a brief introduction by the participants, the floor was opened for open dialogue and discussion which brought meaningful and productive consultations. The Minister stressed the need to improve trade between Canada and Pakistan, which offers enormous potential despite the current global economic meltdown being experienced all over the world. The Minister spoke about her fond memories of Pakistan's last visit with an objective to convert it into a strong trade partnership, was highly acknowledged by the participants.
The Minister was reminded that Pakistan has more then 600 foreign/ Joint Venture companies, banks. Some of these companies have been there prior to Pakistan's independence since 1947- despite challenging circumstances; they have always achieved above global market returns and continue to expand their operations to meet the demand. The Minister was also informed that Pakistan has never defaulted in its commitments and has always kept its global credibility despite economic sanctions and political turmoil faced by the country. However, the key driving force in its growth has been the domestic investors' confidence backed by the intellectual support of overseas Pakistanis.
The Minister was keen to seek the views around the table for concrete proposals to improve trade between the two countries. In order to support the inflow of foreign investment and improvement in trade, it was recommended that the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, considered as Financial Olympics-held every three year outside Washington DC- may be held in Toronto which brings some 10,000 people comprising of Country Presidents, Prime Ministers, heads of bureaucracy, financial institutions, corporate sector, and media. These meetings create synergies with domestic investors and corporate sector. 13000 - 15000- huge success stories of trade are due to most recent meetings in Singapore and Dubai- the media coverage brought Dubai on the global map.
To support Minister's International Trade efforts, the participants stressed the need for Canada Trading House in Pakistan- similar to the lines of Japanese Trading Houses which have been very successful globally and particularly in Pakistan. The Trading House would be more to showcase outstanding Canadian expertise in diversified sectors ranging from Environment, Infrastructure, Services, manufacturing etc. to a population of 170 million with GDP growth in FY07 -8% while for the 90's on average-6% according to the World Bank figures.
Andy Merchant informed the Minister that a business delegation from Pakistan will soon be visiting Toronto. He also suggested that at a later convenient date, the Ontario Government extend an official invitation to the Chief Minister of Punjab to visit Canada as a result of Premier's visit to Pakistan in 2007.