ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s exports to Italy recorded a 49 per cent growth on a year-on-year basis to $786 million in the outgoing fiscal year 2020-21 despite the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic had hit the Italian market.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to Italy Jauhar Saleem said Pakistan posted trade surplus of $300 million, which is 49pc higher than the previous year’s figure, according to a statement of the embassy shared with the media.
Italy has been among the first countries in Europe that were severely hit by the pandemic. Italian GDP fell as low as 9.6pc in 2020, which is the highest fall since World War II. Moreover, Italian imports from non-EU countries declined by 14pc.
Mr Saleem said that despite these difficult conditions, Pakistan has not only recovered from the pandemic-led export challenges, but also registered impressive growth during the period under review.
Envoy in Rome says the country posted trade surplus of $300m
The value-added sectors were the main drivers of this growth, he added. Trade surplus has been created by export enhancement and import contraction.
Ambassador Saleem stated that despite the Indian false claim over Basmati’s exclusive Geographical Indication (GI) rights in the EU and Italian markets, Pakistan maintained its position as market leader in rice with 37.4pc share, whereas India supplied only 12pc of the total imported rice in Italy.
Italy hosts the largest Pakistani diaspora in the EU. In FY21, workers’ remittances from Italy reached $601 million, which is an all-time high figure. It is 66pc higher when compared with the annual figure of FY20 that was $369m.
It has made Italy, Pakistan’s 7th largest destination for workers’ remittances globally and No 1 from the EU. Ambassador Saleem expected this growth streak to continue in FY22. He said Italy and Pakistan have agreed in principle to negotiate a labour agreement that will give Pakistan comprehensive market access to the Italian labour market. He said Pakistan has been included in the Italian Seasonal Work Visa for 2022, which would offer immense opportunity for “our labour force working in agriculture and services sectors to come and work in Italy with legal entry mode”.
The ambassador further said that Italian firms are investing in energy, food processing, leather, textile, construction and furnishing. He said the Pakistani mission is promoting joint venture mode for Italian investment in Pakistan that will “help in technology and skill transfer to our businesses”.
Once, he said, the travel restrictions are eased there will be increased number of Italian investors visiting Pakistan. He also highlighted the initiatives that have been taken to promote tourism, especially capacity building of Pakistan’s tourism sector stakeholders through Italian experts.
On multilateral front, Ambassador Saleem said Pakistan has been elected president of the International Development Law Organisation for two years, which would help in promoting Pakistan’s leading role on different forums along with taking advantage of IDLO’s technical assistance for Pakistan.