ISLAMABAD: Spain has expressed hope that bilateral trade with Pakistan will reach $1 billion this year as it sees a significant potential in both countries to improve economic ties.
Speaking at a meeting with the business community at the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Wednesday, Spanish Ambassador Carlos Morales noted that Spain was the seventh largest trading partner of Pakistan in the European Union and it wanted to further promote bilateral trade.
He said trade between Pakistan and Spain was on the rise, especially after the grant of European Union’s GSP Plus status to Pakistan, and it improved 43% in 2014 and 25% in 2015.
Morales highlighted that Pakistan had all the positive things including a young population, a big consumer market as well as natural resources to attract foreign investors but a biased and wrong perception of the country in the world was a major hurdle to realising its full economic potential.
He said about 500 Spanish companies were doing business in the United Arab Emirates and many were showing interest in Iran and India. Pakistani business community, he added, should also reach out to the outside world to show the potential of their products that would help in attracting more investment and promoting trade.
He called the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor a highly positive development as it had generated a lot of interest among foreign investors encouraging them to look at Pakistan with more interest.
He suggested that both countries should focus on diversification to improve trade and identified IT as a potential area for mutual cooperation. He asked the ICCI to take a sector-specific business delegation to Spain and assured the chamber of cooperation from the Spanish embassy.
ICCI President Atif Ikram Sheikh stressed that dedicated efforts were required from both sides to enhance the two-way trade.
Pakistan’s major exports to Spain were textile products while its imports included all sorts of machinery and parts, chemical material and products, iron and steel.
This showed that bilateral trade was restricted to a few items and other areas needed to be focused on to push commerce between the two sides, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2016.