Italy, Pakistan to negotiate pact on Labour import: envoy

Web DeskWeb Editor

09th Aug, 2021. 12:16 pm

ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Pakistan to Italy Jauhar Saleem has hinted towards starting negotiations on a labour and labour force import agreement with Italy for providing more opportunities to the local skilled youth to get employment in the competitive Italian job market.

“The agreement is [the] need of the hour for the exchange of legal workforce and legal migration between the two countries,” he said.

Talking to newsmen through the third phase of a series of digital ‘Zoom Link’ media talks, organised by the Embassy of Pakistan in Rome, the ambassador said the current strong economic and trade ties between the two countries will help foster such a potential agreement, which will bring the two countries closer.

The Pakistan Embassy in Rome is currently working to provide legal assistance to Pakistani migrants, and the Workforce Export Agreement between the two countries is one such link for creating opportunities for the local skilled labour in the Italian potential market.

Saleem said that Italy and Pakistan have agreed, in principle, to negotiate a labour agreement that will give Pakistan comprehensive market access to the Italian market.

This agreement could also help stop the process of sending workforce illegally in Italy, as well as other European countries, he said, adding: “Our youth in Pakistan are very talented and now through this agreement, we will be able to export skilled labour in the EU, which will enable them to do well in the competitive market here and also increase the remittance in the foreign exchange reserves of the country.”

The agreement would also address the labour internship programme and the training of the tourism labour force, which would further enhance the capacity of the young skilled labour.

Asked about the popularity of Pakistani rice in the Italian market, he said, at present, India has taken its case regarding the branding of Pakistani basmati rice to the EU Agriculture and Trade Committee, for which “we have fully prepared”, adding that India’s claim is unrealistic and illegal, “we have completed our defence and the decision will be expected by September 5, which can be challenged”.

The ambassador said despite the Indian false claim over basmati’s exclusive Geographical Indication (GI) rights in the EU and the Italian market, Pakistan maintained its position as the market leader in rice with 37.40 per cent share, whereas India supplied only 12 per cent of the total rice to Italy.

He said India is worried about the current situation, as the Pakistani rice has emerged as the top brand in the Italian market, where India used to have a monopoly.

To a question on bilateral trade, Saleem said that Pakistan and Italy have agreed to enhance cooperation in the fields of trade, labour market, tourism, agriculture, energy, investment, innovation and skills and media sectors.

The Italian firms are investing in energy, food processing, leather, textiles, construction and furnishing sectors in Pakistan, he said, adding that the mission is promoting joint venture mode for Italian investment in Pakistan that will help in technology and skill transfer to businesses.

Pakistan has been included in the Italian Seasonal Work Visa for 2022, which would offer an immense opportunity for Pakistan’s labour force working in the agriculture and services sector to come and work in Italy with legal entry mode.

Ambassador Saleem said that once the travel restrictions are eased an increased number of Italian investors will visit Pakistan.

He also highlighted the initiatives taken to promote tourism, especially capacity-building of Pakistan’s tourism sector stakeholders with the help of the Italian experts.

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