Pakistan has achieved a trade surplus of $210 million with Italy during the fiscal year 2019-20 as compared with a trade deficit of $164 million during 2018-19.
The exports to Italy were recorded at $731 million and imports from the country stood at $521 million, said Pakistan’s Ambassador to Italy Jauhar Saleem while addressing media through a web link. This year, the envoy said that despite CoVID-19 and the lockdown, Pakistan has got a trade surplus of $210 million.
He informed that Pakistan’s major exports to Italy are textile, leather, rice, ethanol while Pakistan is a market leader in rice and it holds 38% share in the Italian rice market. While he was of the view that Thailand holds a 12% share with $19 million export and India at number three holds 10% with 17 million.
The Ambassador also shared the strategy to promote Pakistani products in the Italian market. While talking about Italian investment in Pakistan in June 2020, the ambassador mentioned that it increased 45% against the corresponding period.
In value terms, it was $51.9 million last year and it has been increased to $56.4 million in FY 2019-20. He said that Italian Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) came mainly in energy, pharma, chemicals, and Information Technology (IT). Saleem said that major investments came in the energy sector and Italy has plans to invest in the renewable energy sector of Pakistan. The Embassy of Pakistan in Rome is facilitating the new investment projects.
The ambassador informed that Italy has become the largest contributor from the EU in home remittances to Pakistan. He said that in FY 2019-20, it registered 29% growth which is far higher than our national growth in remittances.
Pakistani workers contributed $142.9 million in home remittances in FY 2019-20 ($111 million in 2018-19). The ambassador stated that the Embassy took a number of initiatives so that the Pakistani labor force stays in Italy during the lockdown instead of returning to Pakistan.
He said that this strategy has delivered with improving market conditions and Pakistanis are back to work. Workers’ remittances have also registered a 77% growth in June 2020.
Despite the CoVID19 propelled lockdown and supply chain disruptions, Pakistan has fared quite well by registering visible growth in the Italian market in FY 2019-20.
He said that Italy is the 8th largest economy of the world with $2 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Italy has the 3rd largest economy in the European Union (EU) after Germany and France and is Pakistan’s 9th biggest export destination, he added. He said that Italy has the largest Pakistani diaspora in the EU.
Italy is facing hard times due to the economic effects of the pandemic, Saleem said. He said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected a 9- 11% contraction in the Italian economy whereas the Italian Central Bank projected a 9-13% decline in Italian GDP this year.
Answering a question, the ambassador said that the Italian government has decided to temporarily regularize undocumented migrants working in the agricultural sector or as domestic helpers, to fill key jobs and allow workers health coverage.
He informed that Pakistani undocumented workers are among the main beneficiaries of this scheme. The embassy is facilitating Pakistanis in completion of their required documentation so they can benefit from this scheme, he said. He added that the embassy has stayed functional even during the lockdown. The ambassador stated that Pakistan is enhancing areas of cooperation with Italy.
Currently, Italy is providing technical assistance in the textile, leather, and marble sectors. Pakistan is working to expand it to dairy and livestock, olives and olive products, plastics, processed food, and the construction sector. The forum for bilateral economic engagement is expected to meet in Rome in the last quarter of this year.