ROME: Ambassador of Pakistan to Italy, Jauhar Saleem on Sunday said that Pakistani-Italian 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 this while talking to the media through 2nd series digital ‘Zoom Link’ webinar organized by the embassy of Pakistan in Rome.
Jauhar Saleem 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 mode for Italian investment in Pakistan that will help in technology and skill transfer to our businesses. Jauhar Saleem said that once the 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 the multilateral front, 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 along with taking advantage of IDLO`s technical assistance for Pakistan.
Meanwhile, he informed that Pakistan has posted a trade surplus of $ 300 million with Italy in Fiscal year 2020-21, which is 49 percent higher than the previous year of 2019-20. The Ambassador informed that Pakistan’s exports to Italy have reached all-time high i.e. $ 786 million in FY 2020-21.The trade surplus has been created by export enhancement and import contraction, the Ambassador said.
The value added sectors were the main drivers of this growth, he added. Moreover, Italian imports from non EU countries declined 14 percent. Pakistan posts record trade surplus and export growth in the COVID-19 hit Italian market, he said. 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 9.6 percent in 2020, which is the highest fall since World War-II, he informed. However, despite these difficult conditions, Pakistan has not only recovered from the pandemic led export challenges but it has registered impressive growth of 9.1 percent in FY 2020-21.
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 percent share whereas India supplied only 12 percent of the total imported rice in Italy. He informed that Italy hosts the largest Pakistani diaspora in the EU countries. In FY 2020-21, workers’ remittances from Italy reached $601 million which is an all-time high figure, he added.
He said it is 66 percent higher if compared with the annual figure of FY 2019-20 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 FY 2021-22.