ISLAMABAD: Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan Margaret Adamson has called for enhancing trade and cooperation in other fields between the two countries, saying the existing trade volume of $1.56 billion is below true potential.
In a media briefing held in connection with Australia national day on Friday, Adamson said that the bilateral trade volume had increased from around $485 million around two and a half years ago to $1.563 billion in financial year 2016-17. The figure also includes trades in services valued at $645.8 million.
However, the bilateral trade is heavily tilted in Australia's favour as 2016-17 figures show Pakistan imported goods and services worth $1.180 billion from Australia while exporting goods and services valued at $382.3 million. Adamson attributed this imbalance in trade to a larger consumption market in Pakistan. "Australia is not going to be the biggest destination for Pakistan's exports because we are not big enough, but we can be a significant business partner for Pakistan," the ambassador said.
Australia's major exports to Pakistan are vegetables, fruits and fertilisers while it mainly imports textiles, rice and crude petroleum from Pakistan.
Talking about the cooperation in the sector of skill-based education, the high commissioner said Pakistan's human capital was a key asset for the country and needed to be equipped with technical education. "Pakistan relies on remittances. If workers are skilled, remittances can increase," she said, adding Australia's collaboration in Pakistan was focused on helping to hone skills of Pakistan's young and talented workforce.
To a question, the ambassador said the existing trade volume was not enough for Australia to undertake the exercise of negotiating a free-trade agreement with Pakistan.
She said export potential existed in Pakistan's textile, IT, value-added dairy, jewellery, gems and carpets. "We can no doubt take more. But it's a matter of marketing, infrastructure and environment," the ambassador remarked.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2018.
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