Salman Khan
Salman Khan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s export to Italy is expected to cross $1 billion mark in the current fiscal year ending on June 30 mainly led by an increase in value-added textile products, said Pakistan’s Ambass­ador to Italy Jauhar Saleem on Thursday.

The ambassador in an announcement said that Pakistan’s exports to Italy reached an all-time high of $805 million during the first nine months of 2021-22, an increase of 41pc year-on-year.

The value-added sectors were the main drivers of this growth. He said the growth in export proceeds was achieved despite the difficult conditions propelled by the pandemic.

While 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 European Union (EU) and Italian market, Pakistan maintained its position as a market leader in rice export to Italy with 38pc share, whereas India supplied only 12pc 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 EU.

Workers’ remittances from Italy reached an all-time high $639m in 9MFY22, which marks a 48pc increase over the last year 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 $1bn.

In the area of investment, industrial and technological cooperation, Mr Saleem mentioned 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 joint ventures to increase 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.

Mr Saleem also shared that Pakistan and Italy are working on a labour agreement that will give Pakistan comprehensive market access to the 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 also been included in the Italian Seasonal Work Visa for 2022, which would offer many opportunities for our workers in the agriculture and services sector to work in Italy.

Italy is expected to allow 69,700 seasonal workers from selected countries in 2022.

He also elaborated upon various initiatives for promoting the welfare of the Pakistani diaspora in Italy.

While responding to the 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 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 a beneficiary of the existing scheme is reflected in the parliamentary debates, added the announcement.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2022

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