ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ambassador to Italy, Jauhar Saleem has said that Pakistan has posted a trade surplus of $300 million, 49 per cent higher than the previous year, in the Covid hit Italian market.
While talking to the media through Zoom on Thursday, the ambassador said that Italy has been among the first countries in Europe that were severely hit by the pandemic.
Italian GDP fell as low as 9.6pc in 2020 which is the highest fall since World War-II. Moreover, Italian imports from non EU countries declined 14pc. However, despite these difficult conditions, Pakistan has not only recovered from the pandemic led export challenges but it has registered impressive growth of 9.1pc in FY21.
The ambassador informed that Pakistan’s exports to Italy have reached an all time high such as $786 million in FY21.
“Value added sectors were the main drivers of this growth,” he said, adding that trade surplus has been created by export enhancement and import contraction.
While responding to a question, the ambassador stated that despite the Indian false claim over Basmati’s exclusive Geographical Indication (GI) rights in the EU and Italian market, Pakistan maintained its position as market leader in rice with 37.4pc share whereas India supplied only 12pc of the total imported rice in Italy.
The media was informed that Italy hosts the largest Pakistani diaspora in the EU as workers remittances from Italy reached $601 million in FY21 which is an all-time high figure.
It is 66pc higher if compared with the annual figure of FY20 that was $369 million. It has made Italy, Pakistan`s 7th largest destination for workers remittance globally and No.1 from the EU. He expected this growth streak to be continued in the FY22.
He added that Italy and Pakistan have agreed in principle to negotiate a labour agreement that will give Pakistan comprehensive market access to Italian labour market.
He informed that Pakistan has been included in Italian Seasonal Work Visa for 2022 which would offer an immense opportunity for our labour force working in the agriculture and services sector to come and work in Italy with legal entry mode.
It was also informed that Italian firms are investing in energy, food processing, leather, textile, construction and furnishing.
Jauhar Saleem said that the mission is promoting joint ventures (JVs) mode for Italian investment in Pakistan that will help in technology and skill transfer to our businesses.
Once travel restrictions are eased there will be an increased number of Italian investor delegations to 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 multilateral front, the Ambassador Jauhar Saleem informed that Pakistan has been elected president of IDLO for two years which would help in promoting Pakistan’s leading role on different forums alongwith taking advantage of IDLO`s technical assistance for Pakistan.