KARACHI: President of Houston Karachi Sister Cities Association (HKSCA) Muhammad Saeed Sheikh has invited Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) to participate in the International Mayors’ Conference scheduled to be staged in Houston in the month of July 2019, says a Press release.

The invitation for attending the said conference was presented during the visit of HKSCA delegation to KCCI which was accepted by President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda who assured to look into the possibility of sending KCCI’s delegation to Houston to not only participate in the Mayors’ Conference but also explore more avenues of enhancing trade and investment cooperation by holding maximum number of business-to-business meetings with their counterparts in Houston.

Senior Vice President Khurram Shahzad, Vice President Asif Sheikh Javaid, Former Presidents Majyd Aziz and Mian Abrar Ahmed, Former SVP Ibrahim Kasumbi, Prominent Businessperson of Midland Energy Syed Javaid Anwar, President Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Houston Chapter Atif Khan and others attended the meeting.

President HKSCA Saeed Sheikh further informed that for the very first time, Mayor of Houston will be visiting Karachi this year to sign numerous agreements on cooperation in public welfare works, environment, health and provision of fire-extinguishing equipment. “Houston-Karachi port agreement will also be signed during the visit of the Mayor”, he added.

He further informed that the Houston-Karachi Sister Cities Association will grant scholarships to the students of Karachi to study in America and an agreement under student exchange program will also be inked by Institute of Business Administration (IBA) and University of St. Thomas while another agreement will also be signed with University of Karachi for renovation of its Mass Communication Department.

He said that Karachi and Houston have many things in common and this would pave way for promotion of bilateral trade.

He informed that Houston has sister cities agreements with 18 cities around the world including Karachi whereas not a single sister city agreement has been signed with any city in India, signifying the importance of Karachi for Houston.

Referring to KCCI’s My Karachi Exhibition, he advised to stage the International version of My Karachi Exhibition in Houston as well in future with a view to highlight what Pakistan is capable of offering while there was a need to exchange more trade delegations between the two cities.

Earlier, President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda, in his remarks, stressed the need to further strengthen the existing relations between the business communities of Karachi and Houston.

He was of the opinion that the Karachi-Houston Sister Cities Agreement needs to be reactivated and made vibrant in order to bring the business communities of the two cities more close to each other. There is a huge potential to improve relations between Karachi and Houston but collective efforts have to be made to encourage interaction between the business communities and Chambers will have to play a more proactive role in this regard, he added.

Commenting on trade relations between Pakistan and USA, he informed that Pakistan’s exports to USA were recorded at $3.76 billion in 2017 while the imports stood at $ 2.81 billion. The existing trade volume is not in line with the trade potential between the two countries that requires special attention, he added.

He pointed out that Pakistan was a beneficiary of the US GSP program, under which it has duty-free market access to USA on over 3,500 products, including gems and jewelry, leather sports gloves, miscellaneous iron and steel articles, agricultural products, minerals, marble and carpets but the textile sector, which is the mainstay of Pakistan’s exports, was missing in GSP Program list.

Junaid Makda requested HKSCA delegation to take up this issue with relevant authorities in US so that Pakistan’s textile sector could also be added in the GSP program which would surely enable Pakistan’s textile exporters to effectively compete with those competitors who were currently enjoying exports to US under GSP Program.

“The United States is the single biggest export destination for cotton, textile and apparel products of Pakistan and accounts for 16% of total export volume”, he noted, adding that if this sector is added in the GSP Program for Pakistan, it would result in boosting Pakistan’s textiles exports because of excellent quality of finished goods.