ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s exports to Italy recorded a 49 per cent growth on a year-on-year basis to $786 million in the outgoing fiscal year 2020-21 (FY21) despite the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic had hit the Italian market.
According to details, Ambassador of Pakistan to Italy, Jauhar Saleem while talking to the media through a zoom link webinar organised by the embassy of Pakistan in Rome on Sunday said that the country posted a trade surplus of $300 million with Italy in FY21, adding that the trade surplus has been created by export enhancement and import contraction.
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 by 14pc.
Saleem said that despite these difficult conditions, Pakistan has not only recovered from the pandemic-led export challenges, but also registered impressive growth during the period under review.
“The value-added sectors were the main drivers of this growth,” he added.
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 37.4 per cent share whereas India supplied only 12 per cent of the total imported rice in Italy.
He informed that Italy hosts the largest Pakistani diaspora in the EU countries. “In FY21, workers remittances from Italy reached $601 million which is an all-time high figure,” he added.
He said it is 66 per cent higher if 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 number one from the EU.”
He expected this growth streak to be continued in FY22.
Furthermore, Saleem said Pakistan-Italy bilateral relations are looking at new dimensions to enhance mutual cooperation and economic activities in different sectors.
Negation between both of 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.
He said 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.
He informed me that Italian firms are investing in energy, food processing, leather, textile, construction and furnishing.
He added that the mission is promoting joint venture (JV) mode for Italian investment in Pakistan that will help in technology and skill transfer to our businesses. There will be an increased number of Italian investor delegations to Pakistan once travel restrictions are eased.
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, the ambassador informed that Pakistan has been elected as president of International Development Law Organisation (IDLO) for two years which would help promote the country`s leading role on different forums along with taking advantage of IDLO`s technical assistance for Pakistan.