KARACHI: Italy Consul General (CG) Anna Ruffino said that Pakistan is a very interesting market for the Italian businessmen who are interested in doing business with their Pakistani counterparts in different sectors of the economy.
“Pakistan is amongst Italy’s priorities and it is a very interesting market for the Italian investors”, Italian CG said, “Italy can also provide expertise in many fields like agriculture, waste management, clothes, food, leather and marbles etc.”
Speaking at a meeting during her visit to Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Monday, Anna hoped that the opportunities and potential between Pakistan and Italy will grow in the coming years.
President KCCI Muffasar Atta Malik, Senior Vice President Abdul Basit Abdul Razzak, Vice President Rehan Hanif, Chairman KCCI’s Diplomatic Missions and Embassies Liaison Sub-Committee Sohail Amin, Former President Majyd Aziz and KCCI managing committee members were also present at the meeting.
Italian CG further stated that 76 per cent of Pakistan’s textile and clothing are exported to European Union (EU) which shows that it is a potential market for the Italian textile machinery.
She informed that the Italian government is looking forward to opening Italian Trade Agency (ITA) in Karachi this year. “If it happens by April 2018, My Karachi Exhibition will be a good opportunity for ITA to share information about Italian companies through this exhibition”, she added.
In response to concerns expressed over the issuance of visas, she said that the Italian embassy and consulate have a very pro-business approach in issuing business visas. “If you fulfil the criteria, provide all the required documentation and if you are a real businessman, you will certainly get the visa which is not a big deal for us” she said, adding that visa is a very important instrument to increase business and commercial trade.
While referring to GSP Plus status, she said that the status for Pakistan is currently being reviewed which is a complicated procedure as it involves 27 EU members. “GSP Plus to Pakistan will be extended and we are confident it will end in a positive way”, she added.
In his welcome note, President KCCI Muffasar Atta Malik, while referring to existing trade volume between Pakistan and Italy, stressed the need to exchange more trade delegations between the two countries as the current trade volume is not that promising.
He said that Pakistan’s exported goods of worth $666 million and its imports from Italy were recorded at $547 million during fiscal year 2017 which indicate gradual improvement but this has to be intensified through collective efforts from both sides.
In this regard, the Karachi Chamber plans to send its delegation to EU countries including Italy in the second half of current calendar year to look for more trade and investment opportunities, he informed while requesting the Italian CG to facilitate KCCI delegation’s visit by arranging maximum number of B2B meetings with the Italian business and industrial community.
He informed the CG that Karachi, which is the economic hub of Pakistan, offers profitable investment opportunities and added facilities for investment and joint ventures to Italian investors.
Referring to two Special Economic Zones being established on priority in Karachi under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, he advised the Italian business community to take interest in these economic zones where they can enjoy a tax holiday for up to 10 years, along with many other benefits, particularly the one-window operation facility.
“CPEC is a game changer project which will lead to improved regional economic integration and transform Pakistan into a Central and South Asian economic hub”, Muffasar Malik said. “Foreign investors have started showing a keen interest in Pakistan and I am confident that CPEC will bring in a paradigm shift in the business and industrial scenario of the entire region, hence the Italian investors must also take advantage of the situation by either investing or undertaking joint ventures in CPEC-related projects.”
Referring to stringent visa policy of EU, he said that keeping in view the changing world, EU’s visa policy also needs to be reviewed. “We are opening up, the country is safe and we want to prosper with the entire world. We would like to have a reciprocal basis visa issuance policy from EU as well”, he said, “Whenever you send your recommendations or briefs about Pakistan, please put this as your priority suggestion from the business and industrial community of Karachi.”
President KCCI also invited the Italian companies to participate in 15th My Karachi – Oasis of Harmony exhibition scheduled to be organised at Karachi Expo Centre from April 20 to 22, 2018, which would provide an excellent opportunity to Italian businessmen and industrialists to showcase their products and create strong linkages with the business community of Karachi by holding B2B meetings in a cordial atmosphere.