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Pakistan-France Business Alliance held its Fifth Annual General Meeting on Friday April 12, 2019 at the Movenpick Hotel Karachi under the patronage of the Ambassador of France to Pakistan His Excellency Marc Baréty.

The French Consul General Mr. Didier Talpain, Karachi and Mr. Philippe Fouet, Head of the French Economic Department of Economic Department in Islamabad, Pakistan, were also present in this occasion.

The Chairman/CEO Mr. Jamil Hamdani chaired the meeting.

The PFBA Deputy Chairman / CEO Mr. Saeed Allawala presented the fifth set of audited accounts for the year ended December 31, 2018 as a corporate entity registered with the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) under Section 42 of the Companies act, 2017 limited by guarantee.

Mr. Allawala informed members that the accounts were audited by a respectable firm of Chartered Accountants namely Haroon Zakaria & Company engaged by Pakistan-France Business Alliance for Post Registration consultancy and audit purposes. 

Members requested clarification about some heads of income and expenditure. After explanation of these queries by the Deputy Chairman/CEO & Chairman/CEO Mr. Jamil Hamdani, a lively discussion ensued about the ways and means of increasing and re-invigorating the activities of PFBA. It was suggested that events should be organized for making possible networking among members and their interaction for exploring business opportunities with French companies. All Pakistani companies maintaining regular business ties with France should be approached to become members of PFBA.

Before presenting the annual report Mr. Jamil Hamdani, Chairman/C.E.O of PFBA, welcomed the vibrant debate among the members, which followed the presentation of financial statement and requested them to come forth with ideas for stimulating the activities of PFBA. Then he dwelt on economic situation in Pakistan. He said that:

"The economic challenges before the new government are daunting. Although the specter of foreign exchange reserves running dry and debt default has receded due to support from friendly countries, but the recourse to external financing carries a heavy cost."

He was of the view that the country simply cannot endlessly palliate the current account deficit and the falling foreign exchange reserves through multilateral and bilateral financing. A long-term solution to the widening trade and balance of payment deficit is needed. The re-launching of economy and attaining a sustainable growth rate requires vigorous economic and social reforms. He stressed that at some stage our economic managers will have to switch from troubleshooting mode to devising ways and means of enhancing industrial production, overcoming infrastructure deficiencies and increasing exports. He further said that the country and the region needed peace for ensuring the well-being of its inhabitants. Speaking of the PFBA actions for further developing the trade and economic relations with France, he mentioned the organization of information workshop in Paris in collaboration with Business France last June, and the visit of the delegation of French Business Council Dubai last September. He said that PFBA's collaboration with Business France was one of the pillars of PFBA's activities. The visit of the MEDEF delegation was yet another important event, which will go a long way in impressing upon the big French companies the economic importance of Pakistan and the multiple business opportunities it offers.

Following the addressed of the Chairman/CEO, the Chief Guest H.E Marc Barety, Ambassador of France, said that PFBA was an important part of French set-up in Pakistan. He commended PFBA for the role it is playing in the development of bilateral economic relations between France and Pakistan. He said that in the last one year two important visits by French officials took place, one by the Director General of Asian affairs and the other by the secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the meetings with the Pakistani officials, it was suggested to convene a meeting of the joint economic committee, and prepare a road map for developing the relations between the two countries.  There is an economic and investment chapter in the proposed road map, which will be shared with PFBA as soon as it is finalized and agreed upon. He also mentioned the Higher Education Week last year and the visit of the Director General of the French network of Institutes of Technology during which it was decided to streamline the Engineering degrees awarded to the Pakistani students by these institutes. Regarding the travel advisory to the French visitors to Pakistan, he said that he managed to persuade the Crisis Management Unit, which prepares this advisory to visit Pakistan. While they were here, the attack on Chinese consulate in Karachi took place. This shows the difficulties we face with regard to the improvement of advisory. However in order to remove the negative perception among the foreign visitors the Pakistani government has expressed its intention to end with the system of obtaining NOC for visiting some areas in the country. He welcomed the cooperation between the French Business Council Dubai and PFBA. He informed that during his visit to Dubai along with the Economic Counselor at the Embassy, Mr. Philippe Fouet, he emphasized the need for French companies based in United Arab Emirates to explore business opportunities in Pakistan. The ambassador termed the visit of MEDEF delegation as a great success. Never had such a large French business delegation come to Pakistan.
The Head of the Economic Department of the Embassy of France Mr. Philippe Fouet, praised the action of PFBA and hoped that his successor will be able to further carry forward the promotion of economic and trade relations between the two countries.

The evening's proceedings concluded with a lavish high tea served to the members.