Italy has the potential to become a huge trading partner of Pakistan in the European Union where Islamabad enjoys a modest trade surplus, said Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Muhammad Shakeel Munir.

Speaking to Italian Ambassador to Pakistan Andreas Ferrarese at the ICCI on Saturday, he said that Italy had the largest number of Pakistani immigrants in Europe and hoped that they would act as a key factor for developing people-to-people and trade relationship between the two countries.

Citing that 150,000 expatriate Pakistanis were residing in Italy, he added that they had been sending massive amount of remittances back home for the past couple of years.

Stating figures, he pointed out that in fiscal year 2020-21, workers’ remittances from Italy to Pakistan hit $601 million, an all-time high from any European nation.

“This amount is 66% higher than the $369 million received in fiscal year 2019-20 and it has made Italy the seventh largest destination for Pakistan in terms of workers’ remittances and the largest in the EU,” the ICCI president.

He expected the pace of growth to continue in fiscal year 2021-22 as well.

Munir underlined that Pakistan enjoyed a trade surplus of $210 million with Italy in fiscal year 2019-20 against a deficit of $164 million in 2018-19.

He cherished that Pakistan managed to achieve the trade surplus with Italy despite the Covid-induced slowdown and lockdown. The chamber president added that Pakistan’s exports to Italy were recorded at $731 million in FY20 while imports stood at $521 million.

He told the envoy that Pakistan’s major exports to Italy comprised textile, leather, rice and ethanol. “Pakistani rice enjoys 38% share in the Italian market.”

Talking about Italian investment in Pakistan, he mentioned that it showed an increase of 45% in fiscal year 2019-20 against the previous year. The investment rose from $51.9 million in FY19 to $56.4 million in FY20.

“Foreign direct investment (FDI) from Italy mainly entered energy, pharmaceutical, chemical and information technology sectors of Pakistan,” Munir revealed.

The ICCI chief highlighted that Italy was the eighth largest economy of the world with gross domestic product (GDP) of $2 trillion.

Italy is the third largest economy in the European Union, after Germany and France, and it is Pakistan’s ninth biggest export destination. “Currently, Italy is providing technical assistance to the local industry in textile, leather and marble segments,” he noted. “Pakistan needs to expand this cooperation to dairy and livestock, olives and olive products, plastics, processed food and construction.”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2021.

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