July Issue 2008

By | Business | Society | Published 16 years ago

They came, they saw, they celebrated. A 14-member delegation of leading Pakistani businessmen did all that when they travelled to Toronto to attend a gala marking the silver jubilee of the Canada-Pakistan Business Council (CPBC) on June 6. And chances are they networked, solidified relationships and explored new business opportunities as well. During the days leading up to the formal 25th anniversary bash, the dignitaries were recognised by the Ontario Legislature, attended a seminar on export development, participated in a trade expo and were hosted by local trade boards.

The busy week was a testament to the strong relationship that the governments and business communities of Pakistan and Canada have cultivated with one another over the last 25 years, with 18 trade missions travelling to and from Pakistan. Trade between the two countries stands at Canadian $800 million, up from Canadian $250 million a decade ago.

The importance of this commerce was hit upon by almost everyone who spoke at the 500-guest, $150-a-plate dinner. The chief guest, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, shared his belief that trade directly benefits more than economies and families: it helps promote trust and understanding between people. This political rhetoric actually felt genuine. The tall, lanky premier was natural while sharing jokes and fond memories of his 2007 trade mission to Pakistan. Not missing an opportunity, delegation leader S.M. Muneer, former president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, invited Premier McGuinty back to Pakistan and insisted he include Karachi, which was left off last year’s successful trade tour of Islamabad and Lahore, in his itinerary.

The economic relationship between Canada and Pakistan already looks better than ever. The gala’s keynote speaker, Benjamin Little, a director with Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold, spoke of his company’s recent ties with Pakistan: a one-billion dollar investment in a gold and copper mining project in Balochistan.

Still, all the good news was not trade-related. The Aga Khan University was honoured for its leadership role in improving health and education in Pakistan and was presented with a $10,000 cheque from the CPBC.

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