Karachi: Italian Consul General in Karachi Danilo Giurdanella said on Friday economic, trade and defence ties between Rome and Islamabad are getting stronger in spite of a global pandemic.
Speaking to journalists at the launch of the Week of Italian Cuisine in the World, an annual event held to promote Italian cuisine worldwide, the consul general expressed his satisfaction over growing bilateral cooperation between Italy and Pakistan in a number of areas.
“Italy is becoming a major export destination for Pakistani goods and services. Pakistan posted a trade surplus with Italy in 2019-20,” he said.
As opposed to the imports of $490 million, Pakistan’s exports to Italy amounted to $730 million in 2019-20. Italy is the fifth largest export destination for Pakistan within the European Union. Islamabad’s top exports to Italy include textiles, cereals, hides and skins and plastics. Its chief imports from Italy are ships, boats, machinery, pharmaceutical products, aircraft, chemicals and iron and steel.
Pakistani rice enjoys immense popularity in Italy, Mr Giurdanella said, noting that its market share is 38 per cent. Pakistan exports about $62 million worth of rice to Italy every year.
Italy is among the 10 largest global economies. It is the third biggest economic power within the European Union.
“Italy considers Pakistan a key economic partner. We are looking for ways to enhance bilateral cooperation in the realms of trade, investment, defence and technology,” the consul general added.
Italy is a major investor in Pakistan. Its investment totalled $56 million in 2019-20, up 45 per cent from a year ago. Rome has invested in major projects in the energy sector as well as pharmaceutical, chemical and information technology segments, Mr Giurdanella said.
“Pakistan promises a great investment opportunity for Italian investors. With its huge population and immense potential for economic growth, the country has become an ideal destination for Italian capital,” he said.
Italy hosts a large and growing number of Pakistani workers who send remittances regularly that help Islamabad maintain its balance of payments. Italy-based Pakistani workers sent home remittances amounting to $361 million in 2019-20, up by more than 225 per cent from the preceding year.
The Italian government is attempting to bring into the mainstream a number of undocumented migrants from different countries. The move will enable undocumented workers, including those from Pakistan, to get health coverage.
“Pakistan is an important country from an economic point of view. The two countries are determined to strengthen their economic and defence bonds,” he said.
The Week of Italian Cuisine in the World will continue until Dec 16 in Karachi. The event will feature award-winning chef Marco Saracino who will also conduct training workshops.