In continuation of CPBC’s “Focus on Pakistan” initiative to promote bilateral trade between Canada and Pakistan, a high level strategic meeting was held at the Ontario Investment and Trade Centre, Toronto in collaboration with Ministry of Economic Development, Trade & Employment (OMEDTE) and Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD). Highlight of the meeting was the keynote speaker – Mr. Masood Hamid, Director Marketing for Dawn Group Pakistan – who was on a short business visit to Canada. Other notable guests included MPP Dr. Shafique Qaadri, Honorable Consul General of Pakistan Mr. Nafees Zakaria, Deputy Consul General Mr. Golo, , Mr. Allan O’Dette President of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and representatives from Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, University of Guelph, Seneca College, BDC, RBC,TD bank, City of Brampton, City of Markham and prominent local businesses. Also in attendance via conference were Mr. Ferry Dekerchove, Advisor CPBC and Khurshid Saharan of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

In his opening remarks, CPBC President Samir Dossal thanked all the participants for taking the time out and highlighted CPBC’s ongoing contribution in developing trade opportunities between Pakistan and Canada over the past 30 years. He briefed the audience about Premier Kathleen Wynn’s support at the Gala touched upon the plans to organise a high level Trade Mission to Pakistan in collaboration with the Premier’s Office. He stressed upon the need for Canadian Govt. and businesses to tap into the lucrative Agri-Food, Franchising, Education, and ICT sectors in Pakistan. He appreciated Mr. Masood Hamid’s support for CPBC and announced to work in close collaboration with the Dawn Group in future. Towards the end he presented a few pictures of the first “Second Cup” franchise in Islamabad, which was recently inaugurated by the Honorable High Commissioner of Canada in Pakistan. Second Cup plans to open a total of 10 franchise stores in Pakistan in the near future.

Followed by Samir, the honorable MPP read out the greeting from Premier Kathleen Wynne and announced that the Premier has committed to take a trade delegation to South Asia which will include Pakistan. He also presented the Ontario flag to visiting keynote speaker Mr. Masood Hamid.

Special guest Mr. Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) briefly introduced the 101 year old organization, and presented its structure which is comprised of 160 Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade in Ontario, with over 60,000 members in total. He touched upon OCC’s 5-year strategy entitled: Emerging Stronger; and talked about the huge amount of shortage among skilled workforce in Canada for which he looked towards countries like Pakistan for exporting human resource to Canada. Mr. Richard Ross of Export Development Canada (EDC) followed Allan and briefly presented the organisational structure of EDC within and outside Canada to help increase Canadian exports around the world.

Keynote speaker Mr. Masood Hamid thanked the CPBC and the audience for this opportunity, and presented a snapshot of Dawn Group’s historic role since Pakistan’s inception and talked about some of its well known publications and electronic/digital media properties. Masood highlighted the Group’s excellent role in organising conferences, seminars and exhibitions to promote Pakistan’s image and business around the world. He encouraged the Canadian education institutes to invest in Pakistan for transfer of education especially in the technological sector, and assured the audience that Dawn Group will assist Canadian businesses in any such initiatives and would also help in organising Canada’s single country exhibition in Pakistan. Role of the newly elected democratic and pro-business government in Pakistan was appreciated. He thrilled the audience by presenting beautiful traditional caps from Sindh to the Consul General Mr. Nafees, MPP Dr. Qaadri, Mr. Geoffrey Jones (DFATD) and Mr. Akhil Tyagi of MEDTE.

Last but not the least, Honorable Consul General Mr. Muhammad Nafees Zakaria appreciated efforts by Dawn Group and then praised CPBC for holding the Focus on Pakistan workshop and preparing an excellent report.
He emphasised that Pakistan’s 100 million youth population must be tapped into by Canadian education sector. Though each year approximately 4,000 to 7,000 Pakistani students get enrolled in Canadian universities, but a much greater number of youth aspiring for the Canadian higher education need to be catered for within Pakistan.
Other areas of focus for Canadian businesses are Bio-Technology and Bio-Sciences, Artificial Intelligence and Photo-voltaic (for Power Generation). He shared the recent development in the bilateral economic and investment fields. An Energy Sector consortium comprising companies of Canada and other countries [China, USA] visited Pakistan in July and signed MOUs worth $2.8 billion with provincial governments and other authorities for energy sector projects and infrastructure development. He advised the audience that Pakistan Consulate in Toronto has activated contacts with the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), and is closely working with the CPBC to organise a single country Pakistan exhibition in Toronto.

The Consul General concluded by thanking the continuous support of the Ontario Government, DFATD and in particular MPP Dr. Shafiq Qaadri. The meeting concluded on a positive note with action-points listed for follow-up.