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ISLAMABAD: Italy has become billion-dollar export market for Pakistan for the first time ever as during first 11 months of current fiscal year, Pakistan’s exports to Italy increased by 46% which is highest growth rate among all export destinations in Europe.

During this period, Pakistan’s trade surplus with Italy has increased 84%. Just three years ago, Pakistan actually had a trade deficit of $148 million with Italy. In the last three years, despite the pandemic driven market disruptions, Pakistani trade with Italy not only recovered from the deficit but has turned around to post a trade surplus of half a billion dollars.

Pakistan ambassador to Italy, Jauhar Saleem, has been regularly briefing media about the Embassy’s initiatives for trade, investment and remittances enhancement, including engagement with the host government, industry associations, business leaders, chambers of commerce and SMEs.

Pakistan’s exports to Italy have crossed $ 1002 million during the first 11 months of this financial year with the value-added sectors becoming the main driver of growth. From an increasingly diversified export basket, home textiles, leather, rice, plastic products, surgical instruments, general fitness equipment and auto parts have been the top performing product lines.

According to sources, in the wake of the pandemic led health consciousness, Pakistan’s exports of articles of general fitness have also increased by over 100%, while export of plastic products has increased 356 %, making Italy Pakistan’s 4th largest export destination for plastic products.

Pakistan also further improved its position as the market leader in rice sector with its exports increasing by another 31%.

The sources said, Pakistan embassy in Italy has been especially engaging with sourcing firms and investors so as to leverage the pandemic hit conditions to Pakistan’s advantage in terms of enhanced focus of Italian importers on Pakistan, which has helped promote greater B2B interaction, as well as, exchange of delegations. Recently, a 10-member buying mission from Italian leather sector visited Pakistan, and another delegation will be visiting TEXPO Pakistan in August 2022. On the other side, a 22-member delegation of PFMA is on visit to Italy 2022 and a 35-member delegation from leather sector will be visiting Italy in September 2022.

Chairman Pakistan Footwear Manufacturers Association (PFMA), Zahid Hussain has also appreciated the role of the Embassy in establishing Pak-Italy Footwear Technology Institute at Lahore that is playing a vital role in inducing competitiveness and modernization of Pakistan’s footwear sector.

There has also been an unprecedented inflow of workers’ remittances from Italy to Pakistan in the last couple of years. The overall growth in workers’ remittances from Italy has been almost 50% in the first 10 months of this year, making Italy Pakistan’s biggest source of remittances in the EU and the 7th largest in the world. Workers’ remittances are expected to cross 850 million by the end of the current financial year.

Both countries are also working on a Labour Agreement which would open new opportunities for Pakistani skilled and semi-skilled workers in the Italian market

The overall Pakistan-Italy commercial cooperation in the three main sectors of economic engagement is now worth $2.5 billion, which is the second highest in the European Union after Germany.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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