What main challenges did the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry navigate during the pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic had created many challenges for the business sector. ICCI closely worked with the government to save businesses from losses and the government did not impose a complete lockdown in the country. I believe this was the right move. They managed the situation, and had they imposed a complete lockdown, that would have created more difficulties for people. There was a slowdown across all sectors, though gradually worked picked up again. We overcame this situation due to the government’s astute policy.
What are the main industries in Islamabad, and where are the opportunities in those sectors?
Many industries are thriving in Islamabad. The major industries include steel, marble, pharmaceutical, flour, IT, construction, cement, light engineering, and cottage industries. These industries are playing important role in the economic development of the region, exports promotion and employment. They also provide good potential for JVs and investment to local and foreign investors to provide value added products.
In 2021, the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and the UK-Pakistan Business Council signed an agreement of cooperation. What is the potential of this agreement?
UK is an important trading partner of Pakistan and both countries have good potential to further improve their trade and economic relations. According to some estimates, bilateral trade between Pakistan and UK could swell from the existing level of £3 billion to £10 billion by developing strong business linkages between the private sectors of both countries. Both countries can also enhance cooperation in healthcare, education, green energy, infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and many other sectors. The purpose of signing MoU by ICCI with UK Pakistan Business Council (Pakistan Chapter) was to work for promoting direct connectivity between the private sectors of both countries to explore all untapped areas of mutual cooperation. There is great potential to export our products to the UK and other countries as well. There is also huge demand for rice and textiles in the UK. The IT sector is another industry that has huge potential. This agreement will help us further establish solid business linkages with our counterparts there. For surgical items and sportswear, we see enormous potential and demand for the goods that we have. There are many promising opportunities in many areas. From my point of view, this can play a vital role in improving our global strategy and international trade. We are also planning business opportunity conferences in different countries, including the UK. We can organize B2B meetings through our counterparts, which will be extremely helpful in boosting our potential and growing our exports.
What would be your message to our international audience of investors and businesses about Islamabad as a destination for investment and partnerships?
My message to all investors is that Islamabad is a beautiful city. It is the federal capital, with all types of industries based here, so there is a great deal of potential. We have all types of industries here. International tourism can also be promoted here, especially in the northern areas where we have beautiful scenery. I invite the international community to come to Pakistan and Islamabad. We have here a beautiful atmosphere here with fantastic business opportunities.
What are the ICCI’s goals, expectations, and priorities for 2022, which looks to be a promising and exciting year?
In 2022, we have many goals. First, the major goal is to establish an industrial state to meet international standards. The industrial state will be established in the federal capital. This is our main aim. We are also working on hosting a business excellence award ceremony here and will invite firms from Pakistan to come to this event and make it successful. This is among our main priorities. We will also hold a property expo this year as the construction sector is a booming sector in this region with many investment opportunities. It will be an opportunity for the foreign diplomatic missions based here to come and visit this exhibition and see the potential that we have in the Islamabad market. These are our main priorities. Pakistan is a land of opportunity, and now is an exciting time for businesses.