Italy attaches the utmost importance to its relations with Pakistan and all-out efforts are being made to boost economic ties with Islamabad, remarked Italian Ambassador Andreas Ferrarese.

During a visit to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Tuesday, he said the Italian government was committed to strengthening ties with Pakistan in every area of opportunity.

“Italy has over $5 trillion in savings, hence it possesses ample fiscal space to undertake investment projects,” the envoy said. “Pakistani investors should come forward and avail themselves of investment opportunities.”

He stressed that a massive potential existed for Pakistan and Italy to lift the bilateral trade volume to $5 billion. He pointed out that there were several opportunities in Italy’s construction, agriculture and tourism sectors.

The ambassador revealed that Italian visas having validity of three to five years would be offered to potential investors from Pakistan. “This will help enhance business-to-business contacts as well as trade relations between the two nations.”

Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah highlighted that Italy was an important trading partner of Pakistan in Europe as it ranked fifth among Pakistan’s top export destinations.

“For the first time, Rome has ranked first among major supplying markets for Pakistan’s imports from the European Union,” he said. “With a consistent uptrend in two-way trade, it is indeed a healthy sign that both imports and exports are increasing with each passing year.”

Citing figures, the LCCI president pointed out that Pakistan’s exports to Italy stood at $810 million in 2019 while imports from Italy stood at $937 million, which took the bilateral trade volume to its highest level of $1.74 billion.

Misbah added that Pakistan’s exports to Italy were heavily concentrated in textile items, leather products and rice.

He underlined that both economies had a tremendous potential to enhance economic and trade cooperation in areas of construction, agricultural technology, plastics, processed food, dairy, livestock, pharmaceuticals and environment protection.

“Italy is extending technical assistance to Pakistan in textile, leather and marble sectors,” he said.

He praised Italy’s initiative of establishing a textile machinery training centre in Pakistan and said it would support the development of domestic textile industry by enhancing its technical capacity.

Misbah highlighted that Pakistan had recently introduced the mobile device manufacturing policy as well as electric vehicle policy, which provided a great platform for forming joint ventures by companies of the two countries.

“We intend to develop close liaison with the Italian Trade Commission office in Pakistan in order to exchange important information related to trade queries,” he added. The LCCI president said that Special Economic Zones were being established under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which offered modest tax incentives to investors.

“If Italian companies take interest in investing in these zones, then Pakistan can become a lucrative destination for them,” he said.

LCCI Senior Vice President Muhammad Nasir Hameed Khan and Executive Committee members Chaudhry Khadim Hussain and Shahid Nazir were present on the occasion.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2021.

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