Despite the Covid-19 propelled lockdown and supply chain disruptions, Pakistan has fared quite well by registering visible growth in Italian market in FY 2019-20,” said the Ambassador of Pakistan to Italy H.E. Jauhar Saleem while addressing to Pakistani and Italian media. Italy is the 8th largest economy of the world with $ 2 trillion GDP. It is the 3rd largest economy in the EU after Germany and France. It is Pakistan‘s 9th top export destination and it hosts largest Pakistani diaspora in the EU.
Italy is facing hard times due to the economic effects of the pandemic. IMF projected 9-11% contraction in Italian economy whereas Italian Central Bank projected 9-13% decline in Italian GDP, this year.
The Ambassador sated that last year Pakistan had trade deficit of $164 million with Italy. This year (FY2019-20) despite CoVID19 and lockdown Pakistan has got a trade surplus of $210 million . So balance of trade is in Pakistan‘s favour now. In FY 2019-20, Pakistan‘s exports to Italy are $731 million and imports are $521 million. Pakistan‘s major exports to Italy are textile, leather, rice, ethanol etc. Pakistan is market leader in rice and it holds 38% share in Italian rice market. Pakistan exported rice worth $62 million.[ Thailand holds 12% share with $19 million export. India at number three holds 10% with 17 million ]. The Ambassador shared the strategy to promote Pakistani products in 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. Italian FDI came mainly in energy ,pharma, chemicals and IT etc. Major investment came in energy sector. Italy has plans to invest in renewable energy sector of Pakistan. The Embassy of Pakistan, Rome is facilitating these new investment projects.
The Ambassador informed that Italy has become the largest contributor from the EU in home remittances to Pakistan. 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 labour force stays in Italy even during the lockdown instead of returning back to Pakistan. This strategy has delivered and with the improving market conditions, Pakistanis are back to work and workers remittances have registered 77% growth in June 2020.
While answering to a question, the Ambassador informed that 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. 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 added that the Embassy has stayed functional even during the lockdown days. The Ambassador stated that Pakistan is enhancing areas of cooperation between with Italy. Currently Italy is providing technical assistance in textiles, leather and marble sectors. Pakistan is working to expanding it to dairy and livestock, olives and olive products, plastics, processed food and construction sector. The Pak-Italy Joint Economic Commission that is the forum for bilateral economic engagement is expected to meet in Rome in last quarter of this year.