Tunisian envoy hopes to sign trade deal with Pakistan this year

Adel Elarbi cites areas of agriculture, tourism and services for cooperation

APP February 29, 2016
Cites areas of agriculture, tourism and services for cooperation. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: Tunisian Ambassador Adel Elarbi has expressed the hope that a preferential trade agreement will be signed with Pakistan this year as it will help in enhancing trade between the two countries.

Speaking to business community at the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Monday, he identified agriculture, tourism and services as the potential areas of cooperation.

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The ambassador said Tunisia was interested in improving trade relations with Pakistan since increased cooperation was in the interest of both the nations.

This way, Pakistan could gain better access to world markets like Europe, North Africa and Middle East while Tunisia could get access to Asia.

Elarbi said Tunisia was one of the major exporters of olive oil at competitive prices and Pakistani importers should capitalise on the opportunity.

“Eighty per cent of our trade is with Europe and Pakistani investors should explore opportunities of investment and joint ventures in Tunisia to promote their exports to the European and North African markets.”

Elarbi assured the ICCI members that he would try to get visa conditions relaxed for Pakistani businessmen so they could easily visit Tunisia and explore opportunities there.

Speaking on the occasion, ICCI President Atif Ikram Sheikh said trade between Pakistan and Tunisia during 2014-15 stood at just $33.08 million and efforts were needed from both sides to make improvements.

“Both countries should encourage frequent exchange of trade delegations and organise single-country exhibitions on a reciprocal basis to increase the trade volume.”

Pakistan can export rice, pharmaceutical, surgical, leather, sports and many other products to Tunisia.

Sheikh added there was a good scope for fabric export from Pakistan which after value addition in Tunisia could be exported to Europe and other countries.

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He stressed both countries should sign a free trade agreement which would bring lots of opportunities.

The two sides also discussed the proposed visit of a business delegation to Tunisia for exploring the untapped areas of cooperation. 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2016.

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