The United States Mission to Pakistan along with the Punjab Provincial Government opened a three-day private sector forum today to identify opportunities and challenges for commercial and social investments in the region. The forum was organized by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Punjab Enabling Environment Project (PEEP) through the USAID Lahore Office in collaboration with the South Punjab private sector.

The forum will be focused on four key sectors: agriculture, tourism, textiles, and energy. One of the main topics will be identifying the challenges for growth of the private sector in South Punjab, including market access constraints exacerbated by COVID-19 mobility limitations. Other topics include lack of innovation in agriculture practices and crop value chains, the widening knowledge gap in agriculture enterprises, and access to finance for smallholders.
“Recognizing investment gaps, formulating common strategies, and establishing a broad framework to enhance investments will go a long way in helping develop South Punjab,” said Catherine Rodriguez, U.S. Consul General in Lahore.

“We understand the hurdles impeding the economic growth of the region but through joint efforts with the Government of Punjab, and major public and private sector partners, we can overcome these impediments,” said USAID/Pakistan Mission Director Julie Koenen, who is scheduled to give the closing remarks at the end of the forum on January 28. 

Additional Chief Secretary for South Punjab Zahid Akhtar Zaman represented the Punjab government and delivered remarks focusing on the Punjab government’s vision for the region. More than 100 participants from the public and private sector also attended the virtual plenary session.

USAID’s PEEP program has also established sustainable initiatives to address a number of challenges, including the absence of academia-industry linkages for technology-driven research and development, and access to finance and markets.