Pakistan’s exports to Italy recorded a 49 per cent growth on a year-on-year basis to $786 million within the outgoing financial year 2020-21 despite the very fact that the Covid-19 pandemic had hit the Italian market.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to Italy Jauhar Saleem said Pakistan posted a trade surplus of $300 million, which is 49pc above the previous year’s figure, consistent with a press release of the embassy shared with the media.
Italy has been among the primary countries in Europe that were severely hit by the pandemic. Italian GDP fell as low as 9.6pc in 2020, which is that the highest fall since 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 amount under review.
The value-added sectors were the most drivers of this growth, he added. The 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 within the EU and Italian markets, Pakistan maintained its position as the market leader in rice with 37.4pc share, whereas India supplied the only 12pc of the entire imported rice in Italy.
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Italy hosts the most important Pakistani diaspora within the EU. In FY21, workers’ remittances from Italy reached $601 million, which is an all-time high figure. it’s 66pc higher in comparison 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 theory to barter a labour agreement that will give Pakistan comprehensive market access to the Italian labour market. He said Pakistan has been included within the Italian Seasonal Work Visa for 2022, which might offer immense opportunity for “our labour force working in agriculture and services sectors to return and add 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 venture mode for Italian investment in Pakistan which will “help in technology and skill transfer to our businesses”.
Once, he said, the travel restrictions are eased there’ll be an increased number of Italian investors visiting Pakistan. He also highlighted the initiatives that are taken to market tourism, especially the capacity building of Pakistan’s tourism sector stakeholders through Italian experts.
On the multilateral front, Ambassador Saleem said Pakistan has been elected president of the International Development Law Organisation for 2 years, which might help in promoting Pakistan’s leading role on different forums alongside taking advantage of IDLO’s technical assistance for Pakistan.