Pakistan, Italy see new dimensions to enhance trade: envoy
ISLAMABAD: The bilateral relations between Pakistan and Italy are looking at new dimensions to enhance mutual cooperation and economic activities in different sectors, a diplomat said.
Negotiations between both the sides on enhancing cooperation in the fields of trade, labour market, tourism, agriculture, energy, investment, innovation and skills and media sectors are in the final stages, Ambassador of Pakistan to Italy, Jauhar Saleem said this while talking to the media through second series digital ‘Zoom Link’ webinar, organised by the Embassy of Pakistan in Rome.
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 labour market.
Pakistan has been included in the Italian Seasonal Work Visa for 2022, which would offer an immense opportunity for the labour force working in the agriculture and services sector to come and work in Italy with legal entry mode, he added.
The ambassador said the Italian firms are investing in energy, food processing, leather, textile, construction and furnishing, adding that the mission is promoting joint venture mode for Italian investment in Pakistan that will help in technology and skill transfer to businesses.
Saleem said that once the travel restrictions are eased, there will be an increased number of Italian investor delegations visiting Pakistan.
He also highlighted the initiatives that have been taken to promote tourism, especially capacity-building of Pakistan’s tourism sector stakeholders through Italian experts.
On the multilateral front, Ambassador Saleem said that Pakistan has been elected the president of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) for two years, which would help promote Pakistan’s leading role on different fora along with taking advantage of the IDLO’s technical assistance for Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has posted a trade surplus of $300 million with Italy in the fiscal year 2020/21, which is 49 per cent higher than the previous year of 2019/20, the envoy said, adding that Pakistan’s exports to Italy have reached an all-time high of $786 million in FY 2020/21.
The trade surplus has been created by export enhancement and import contraction, he said, adding that the value-added sectors were the main drivers of this growth. Moreover, Italian imports from non-EU countries declined 14 per cent.
Pakistan posts record trade surplus and export growth in the Covid-19-hit Italian market, he said, adding that Italy has been among the first countries in Europe that were severely hit by the pandemic.
The Italian GDP fell as low as 9.6 per cent in 2020, which is the highest fall since World War-II, he said; however, despite these difficult conditions, Pakistan has not only recovered from the pandemic-led export challenges but it has registered an impressive growth of 9.1 per cent in FY 2020/21, he added.
Responding to a question, the ambassador said, despite the Indian false claim over Basmati’s exclusive Geographical Indication (GI) rights in the EU and 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 imported rice in Italy.
Italy hosts the largest Pakistani diaspora in the EU countries, he said, adding that in FY 2020/21, the workers remittances from Italy reached $601 million, which is an all-time high figure. It is 66 per cent higher, compared with the annual figure of FY 2019/20 that was $369 million.
It has made Italy, Pakistan’s seventh largest destination for workers remittance globally and No 1 from the EU, he said and expected this growth streak to continue in FY 2021/22.
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