ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Iraq Hamid Abbas Lafta has said that Pakistan and Iraq will sign agreements on cooperation in various sectors, including trade promotion and tariff rationalisation, to enhance bilateral economic and trade ties.

Pakistan and Iraq will sign 10 agreements to promote such cooperation in coming June, which will mark the beginning of a new era in enhancing bilateral relations, the ambassador told APP on Sunday.

These agreements would be signed on tax and tariff exemptions, economic and trade cooperation, coordination against human trafficking and other crimes, besieds air connectivity, he said.

Ambassador Lafta said there was a huge potential for the development of bilateral trade between the two countries in near future. He said Iraq was a free market, offering vast opportunities for Pakistani investors, from which the local business community could benefit from.

He expressed the hope that the current $100 million bilateral trade would be doubled, which would require cooperation in the petroleum and tourism sectors as well as more air travel facilities.

According to him, talks are also under way to make air connectivity more effective in both the countries and agreements will be signed in this regard.

The ambassador said that in order to improve economic and trade cooperation, it was necessary to know each other’s markets and in this regard exhibitions and seminars should be organised to boost interest of business class and investors from both countries.

He said that about 200 businessmen had gone to Iraq to participate in the trade exhibition this year.

In response to a question, the ambassador said that 200,000 Pakistanis visited the Iraqi cities of Karbala, Najaf and Baghdad every year and locals in those cities did not leave any stone unturned in their service and love.

In addition, there was a need to attract Pakistanis for traditional tourism in the tourist areas of Iraq, which would boost tourism on both sides, he added.

He said: “We want to promote mutual cooperation with Pakistan in petro-chemical and other fields of energy and in this regard technical support and mutual cooperation can be extended in every possible way.”

Ambassador Lafta said there were numerous investment opportunities for Pakistani companies in the construction sector in southern Iraq.

The ambassador said Pakistan is a youth-majority country and the youth in Iraq and Pakistan need to be made aware of the historical religious ties between the people of both countries.

Responding to a question, he said Arab countries were not new to Pakistan and Pakistan’s relations with the Middle East, especially Iraq, would be of utmost importance in future. The official agreed that there was need for awareness on both sides in this regard.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2022

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