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LAHORE: Borhene El Kamal, the ambassador of Tunisia to Pakistan, and the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) have agreed to strengthen efforts to enhance trade relations in the larger interest of their two countries.

He visited the Aptma Northern zone office on Wednesday where he was received by Kamran Arshad, Senior Vice Chairman, Asad Shafi, Vice Chairman, Raza Baqir, Secretary General, and other senior members of Aptma. Former central chairman of Aptma Abdul Rahim Nasir, along with other senior members, was also present on the occasion.

The visiting envoy said that online negotiations on a Preferential Trade Agreement had started three years ago and authorities of both the countries are in contact with each other to finalise the PTA.

He hoped for breakthroughs after the signing of PTA, which would lead to upsurge in bilateral trade.

According to him, a Tunisian business delegation is also planning to visit Pakistan to look for the business opportunities in the coming months. It will visit Aptma and other trade associations, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Senior Vice Chairman Aptma Kamran Arshad appreciated the role of the Tunisian embassy in pursuing PTA with Pakistan. He assured him of pushing the Commerce ministry of Pakistan by the Aptma to expedite the process.

He said the Aptma would welcome the delegation in the coming months to negotiate joint ventures (JVs) between the two sides.

Both the countries may have JVs in areas like Man Made Fibres, denim, twill, drill, shirting materials and other technical textiles, he added.

Earlier, he highlighted the significance of cooperation, collaboration, and JVs of the industrial sectors of the two countries. He said an early signing of a PTA between the two countries will be beneficial to the textile sectors of the two countries. Also, he suggested signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Aptma and the embassy of Tunisia.

Vice Chairman Aptma Asad Shafi said Pakistan’s exports to Tunisia stood at $ 24.5 million with 31 percent component of cotton and imports were at $ 2.4 million in 2021. He said there is a strong potential for expansion in bilateral trade between the two counties, in particular, in the fields of textile, food, and chemicals.

According to him, the emerging status of Tunisia in the African countries and the geostrategic location of Pakistan could be beneficial to each other. He also extended a vote of thanks to the visiting envoy at the end of the meeting.

Meanwhile, speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ambassador of Tunisia Borhene El Kamel has invited Pakistani businessmen to join hands with their Tunisian counterparts and explore trade and investment opportunities in his country.

LCCI President Kashif Anwar, Senior Vice President Chaudhry Zafar Mahmood, Vice President Adnan Khalid Butt and Honorary Consul of Tunisia Mohammad Hameed also spoke on the occasion.

The ambassador said that Tunisia is a gateway for EU countries and African market and Lahore Chamber should plan a business delegation for Tunisia to identify business opportunities in Tunisian and African market.

He said that the direct interaction between the private sectors of Pakistan and Tunisia is the key to explore all potential areas of mutual cooperation and visit of LCCI delegation to Tunisia will be a right step in that direction. He assured that his embassy will facilitate Pakistani businessmen in B2B meetings to make their visit successful.

He said that Tunisia has signed Preferential Trade Agreements with many countries of the region and close cooperation of Pakistan with it will help it get easy access to Africa, EU, Middle East countries for exports.

He said that Pakistan can also re-export its products to the other countries from Tunisia.

“We are looking forward to develop business relations with Pakistan as both countries are enjoying good political relations”, he said and added that the good relations between the two countries should also be reflected in mutual trade.

The Ambassador said that both countries have potential to set up joint ventures in various sectors. He said that Tunisia largely exports fertilizers and used cloths and imports rice, cotton and textile products to and from Pakistan. He said that 80 percent exports of Tunisia are to the EU market while 20 percent are to North America, Africa, Asian countries, China and Japan.

He said that though the population of Tunisia is small but it is a lucrative market. He said that we are working practically to make visa issuance easy for the businessmen.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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