Ali urges business community to focus on Africa for trade

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Ali Javed, Additional Secretary (Africa), has urged the business community to focus on Africa for trade and exports as the African continent offers huge potential to Pakistan for enhancing trade ties.

He said this while addressing as Chief Guest the Africa Day celebrated at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI).

Atadjan Movlamov Dean of Diplomatic Corps, Mr Mohammad Karmoune Dean of Africa, MthuthuzeliMadikiza High Commissioner South Africa, M. Bello Abioye High Commissioner of Nigeria, Rashid Ally Soobadar High Commissioner Mauritius, Ali Sheikh Abdullahi Ambassador of Somalia,Shakeel Munir President ICCI, Ali Javed Additional Foreign Secretary Khalid Iqbal Malik Chairman Founder Group (ICCI), Zafar Bakhtawari Chairman Pakistan Africa Friendship Association, JamshedAkhter Sheikh (SVP), Faheem Khan (VP) also participated in event.

Ali Javed said that Pakistan has now increased its Ambassadors up to 20 in the African region in order to improve its trade and economic ties with Africa and added that the government would cooperate with the business community in exploring new opportunities of promoting exports to Africa.

Mohamed Karmoune, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco and Dean of the African Corps said that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area comprising 55 countries with a population of around 1.4 billion holds tremendous economic prospects for Pakistan and the Pakistani private sector should take benefit of it by enhancing trade cooperation with African countries.

He stressed that the Pakistani business community should explore JVs and investment in Africa, which is emerging as the continent of the future.

He highlighted agriculture, industry, mining, IT, renewable energy, textiles, pharmaceuticals, transport, tourism and infrastructure as potential areas of cooperation between Pakistan and Africa.

Speaking at the occasion, Muhammad Shakeel Munir, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry emphasized that the government should facilitate the private sector in promoting strong business linkages with African counterparts that would help in exploring new areas of bilateral business collaboration.

He said that the pandemic has subsided now and it is the right time that both sides should facilitate frequent exchange of trade delegations to improve bilateral trade relations.

He said that the government should increase its footprint in Africa by posting more trade envoys and opening more trade wings at Pakistani Embassies in Africa.

He said that the government should initiate market access negotiations for bilateral and multilateral trade agreements with African countries that would help in boosting Pakistan’s trade and exports with Africa.

Former President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce (ICCI) and senior leader of United Business Group (UBG) of FPCCI Zafar Bakhtawri said the current $4.18 billion annual trade volume between Pakistan and Africa is far below then it’s potential in the Africa region, which could be doubled in the next three years.

Exploring new markets and trade diversification policy in Africa is critical to increasing annual trade, he said in a press release issued.

A senior business leader said that Pakistan’s trade with Africa has remained stagnant at US $3 billion per year for the last few years but

has now crossed the mark of USD 4 billion and is USD 4.18 billion.

Main reason for the low trade volume has been the low level of engagement of Pakistan with Africa, he said.

“We have put in place “Look Africa” and “Silk Reconnect” policy initiatives for Africa and Central Asian Republics respectively.”

He said the World Bank expects that most African countries would reach middle income status by 2025.

He said that Africa’s importance is self-evident, a geographical expanse of 30.37 million square kilometres, home to 1.3 billion people in 54 states, and a combined GDP of over $ 2.33 trillion.

He said that Pakistan has launched “Look Africa Policy Initiative” in 2017, which has already been made operational and is reflective of four broader policies towards Africa. To enhance connectivity between Africa and Pakistan, the ‘Look Africa’ Plan includes measures that can help boost trade between Pakistan and Africa, he added.

He said that Africa is moving towards economic integration through a number of sub-regional organizations. In recent years, certain African countries’ growth rates have outpaced all others in the World.

The Continent witnessed an 11% growth in Foreign Direct Investment in 2018,reaching $ 46 billion, he said. He said that historically, Pakistan has enjoyed cordial political ties with African nations, based on trust, mutual respect and goodwill. Pakistan was one of the ardent supporters of their struggles for independence from Colonialism.

He added that no cooperation was possible without the business men and women from Africa and Pakistan, urging governments of both groups to facilitate robust collaboration.

Zafar said with global priorities moving away from geo-politics to geo-economies all over the world, national policies need to focus on

transformation via multiple facets.

Khalid Iqbal Malik, Chairman Founder Group said that Africa’s rich natural resources, vast import market, strong economic growth patterns and a new continent-wide framework for free trade offer unique opportunities to Pakistan and urged that the business community should accelerate efforts to develop strong trade ties with African countries in order to achieve multiple benefits for our economy.—APP

 

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