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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has posted a trade surplus of $372 million during the first nine months (July- March) of FY 2021-22, showing growth of 65 percent as compared to the previous year.

Talking to media, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Italy, Jauhar Saleem said that despite the difficult conditions propelled by the pandemic, Pakistan has registered an impressive growth of 41 percent in FY 2021-22 (July-March) as compared to corresponding period.

He informed that Pakistan’s exports to Italy reached an all-time high of $805 million during the first nine months of this financial year. The value-added sectors were the main drivers of this growth which produced a trade surplus of $372 million. Italy is expected to be $1 billion export market for Pakistan in FY 2021-22.

Responding to a question, the ambassador stated that despite the false and fabricated Indian claim over Basmati’s exclusive Geographical Indication (GI) rights in the EU and Italian market, Pakistan maintained its position as market leader in rice export to Italy with 38 percent share, whereas, India supplied only 12 percent of the total imported rice in Italy.

He also shared that following the Brexit, Italy is now home to the largest Pakistani diaspora in the European Union (EU). In FY 2021-22 (July-March), workers’ remittances from Italy reached $639 million, which marks a 48 percent increase over the last year, and is an all-time high figure, making Italy Pakistan’s biggest source of remittances in the EU and the 7th largest in the world. He expected the growth streak to continue in the last quarter of this financial year to take workers’ remittances from Italy around one billion dollars.

In the area of investment, industrial and technological cooperation, Ambassador Saleem mentioned the various ongoing initiatives and informed that Italian firms were keen to invest in the fields of energy, food processing, leather, textile, construction and furnishing. He added that the embassy was promoting JV mode for increased Italian investment in Pakistan that will help in technology and skills transfer to our businesses. He also highlighted the initiatives in tourism; especially in terms of capacity building of Pakistan’s tourism sector through Italian experts.

Ambassador Saleem also shared that Pakistan and Italy are working on a labour agreement that will give Pakistan a comprehensive market access to Italian labour market. He informed that Pakistan has shared the draft agreement with Italian authorities and formal negotiations will be started soon. He stated that Pakistan has been included in the Italian Seasonal Work Visa for 2022 also, which would offer many opportunities for our workers in agriculture and services sector to work in Italy. Italy is expected to allow 69,700 seasonal workers from selected countries in 2022 to come to Italy for work. He also elaborated upon various initiatives for promoting welfare of Pakistani diaspora in Italy.

To a question, the Ambassador stated that the 4th Biennial Review of EU GSP-Plus is in progress and Pakistan is expecting EU Commission’s monitoring visit in this summer. He expressed optimism about the outcome of the review. He added that the new GSP Scheme is being debated in the EU Parliament and the Embassy is engaging Italian members of the European Parliament, especially from Trade and Foreign Affairs Committees, so that Pakistan’s feedback as beneficiary of the existing scheme is reflected in the parliamentary debates.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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