ABC - AN OVERVIEW.
Serving Pakistan successfully for the past 34 years, the American Business Council of Pakistan (ABC) is the single largest chamber recognised by the Ministry of Commerce. It is the representative body of American companies in Pakistan. The chamber is an effective forum to channel suggestions and give input for improvement to the Government of Pakistan through relevant bodies. The chamber also aims to protect and promote the interests of US investors in Pakistan, to introduce and inculcate best practices and to promote the development of commerce between Pakistan and the USA.
The ABC is affiliated with the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC), Washington D.C., and Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC). ABC also has a close working relationship with the U.S.-Pakistan Business Council, Washington, which is a component of the USCC.
The ABC is managed by an Executive Committee that is elected every year by its members and meets monthly to review various aspects of its ongoing initiatives. Sub-committees are formed, which meet regularly to ensure that adequate focus is given to important issues.
Established in 1984, the ABC participated in the Pakistan International Trade Fair held the same year in Karachi and produced the U.S. Pavilion Exhibitors' Directory containing information about the ABC and its members. In 1986, a supplement on Pakistan titled 'Oasis of Opportunity' was published in the The Nation's Business, an official magazine of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sponsored by the ABC. Copies were distributed to the relevant functionaries of the Government of Pakistan, Pakistan embassies and overseas branches of Pakistani banks. Mr. Jamshed K.A. Marker, Ambassador for Pakistan in the U.S.A., acknowledging the effort said, "It is an excellent document which will be very valuable for distribution in this country."
The ABC carries out an Informal Business Perception Survey amongst its members to view the investment climate in Pakistan. In 1992, the survey showed increased chances in the investment climate. The same year, Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Minister for Finance, was going to New York to inaugurate Pakistan's New Economic Environment Conference so the ABC provided him with a copy of the Survey to carry the views of the existing American investors as to how positively they looked at the business environment in Pakistan. The survey became the main feature of a supplement on Pakistan published in the Wall Street Journal on September 18, 1992, with positive editorial comments on the occasion of Investment Promotion Seminars held in the U.S.A., and Canada.
In 2000, an ABC President for the first time visited Washington D.C. and met with key people to improve Pakistan's image, which was not good at that time, and to present a more balanced view on how to unveil the true image of Pakistan, considering the harsh treatment Pakistan was getting by the media. Mr. Shaukat Aziz, the then Minister for Finance, formally inaugurated the U.S.-Pakistan Business Council (U.S.-PBC) in 2003, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, DC and gave an overview of Pakistan's economy. He also invited the U.S. businessmen to come forward and invest in Pakistan, after which Mr. Edward Jackson, the Chairman of Sweetwater Inc., said that Pakistan was the best place for investment with Dr. Davis joining him in announcing the results of a study conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in which Pakistan was at the top of the list as it offered the best investment and business environment in the region.
Currently, the ABC consists of 65 members who operate in all sectors of the economy; most of them are Fortune 500 companies. They include Abbott Laboratories, Coca-Cola Beverages, Colgate Palmolive, Continental Biscuits, Dunkin Donuts, IBM, Microsoft, Mondelez Pakistan Ltd., Ogilvy and Mather, Procter andGamble,Teradata Pakistan and UPS, to name a few. They operate in various sectors i.e. healthcare, financial services, information technology, chemicals and fertilizers, energy, FMCG, food and beverage, oil and gas and others.
The United States and Pakistan share a very long and strong economic and commercial relationship. Pakistan's largest trading partner and top source of foreign investment is the United States. Pakistan serves as a modest market for the United States and ranked as the 59th largest purchaser of US goods in 2012. Similarly, the United States was Pakistan's largest market in 2012 with almost 16% of its total exports. Having two-way trade at around $5.1 billion in 2012, both countries continue to fulfil their bilateral and multilateral commitments. The U.S. also provides economic assistance to Pakistan.
With more than a hundred local firms representing the US, the ABC has firmly established its presence in Pakistan. These firms contribute an ample amount to the national treasury every year in the form of direct and indirect taxes and the investments made by the members of the ABC are of great benefit to Pakistan's economy. Despite security threats and emerging market concerns, the Pakistan market offers many attractive trade and investment opportunities to U.S. companies with a few restrictions.
Pakistan is full of potential. This is a country where 75% of the population is less than 35 years of age. It also has geo-economic significance. Pakistan remains an attractive market that could easily attract multinational firms. The World Bank's report in 2013 ranked Pakistan 107th in 185 economies in terms of doing business in the international market.