PTI government takes unprecedented economic diplomacy initiative in the history of Pakistan worth billions of dollars
ISLAMABAD - Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Industries and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood on Thursday said that Pakistan desired to increase trade and economic cooperation with African countries over the next five years.
Speaking at the “Pak-Africa Trade Development Conference” held in Nairobi, Kenya, the adviser pointed out that the trade volume between Pakistan and Africa had been nominal, which should be boosted.
He stressed that the conference, organised by the Ministry of Commerce, was an important initiative to bring together businessmen from Africa under one roof in order to explore and open new frontiers for enhancing trade.
“This conference will synergise our efforts to capitalise on the economic opportunities and is a testimony of our government’s strong commitment to enhance trade and economic cooperation with Africa,” he said.
“In 2018, Africa’s annual global trade was $1.075 trillion. However, Africa-Pakistan trade has remained stagnant at a meagre $3 billion for many years.”
The adviser revealed that bilateral trade crossed $4 billion only in the past two years, reaching $4.28 billion in 2018-19, which was still a fraction of the total trade.
“It’s time to unlock the true potential of our trade relations,” he remarked and saw a huge potential for trade between the two sides but “we need to enhance connectivity with Africa”.
“I have a strong belief that trade and connectivity are the two sides of a same coin and it is not possible to have one without the other.”
The PM aide emphasised that reduction in tariff and non-tariff barriers by both sides was also necessary, which would act as a catalyst for accelerated growth in bilateral trade. The Ministry of Commerce has formulated the “Look Africa Policy Initiative”, which has already been put into motion and this is a reflection of Pakistan’s broader policy towards Africa.
“We need to exchange more manufactured and processed goods, ensure more transfer of knowledge and create more value,” he said.
“Both sides need to accelerate export diversification and product sophistication and make our trade more inclusive. This will enable us to shift from over-dependence on commodities to higher value-added products and services.”
It would also help to build resilience to movement in demand and fetch better prices.
“We are opening six new trade wings at our embassies in Africa which include Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Senegal, Sudan and Tanzania,” the adviser said.
He stressed that Pakistan was open to all proposals from the friends in Africa.