Cementing ties: Trade between Pakistan and Spain can grow 10 times: ambassador

Published: April 27, 2012
Gonzalo Maria Quintero Saravia. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL

Gonzalo Maria Quintero Saravia. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL


The outgoing Spanish ambassador, Gonzalo Maria Quintero Saravia, is not happy with the trade between Spain and Pakistan.

The trade figures have the potential to grow 10 times the current number of US$450 million per year, he said in an interview with The Express Tribune on Wednesday. Spain’s imports from Pakistan are around US$150 million and exports around US$300 million.

Ambassador Saravia said that although the political relations between the two countries date as far back as 50 years, Pakistan is still a very new market for Spain and most of the investors only get the right impression after visiting the country themselves.

The energy sector, he added, remains the focus for Spain in Pakistan. Spanish companies are setting up plants of renewable energy in Sindh, he said.

Pakistanis settled in Spain

There are about 70,000 Pakistanis in Spain. The second generation Pakistanis, the ambassador said, are Spanish and they enjoy perks like any other Spaniard. “We do not treat them as outsiders, they are Spanish and the consulate works here very closely to facilitate the family members when they apply for visa,” he added.

Good memories

The ambassador fondly recollected his experience of Pakistan, dubbing it “tough but rewarding at the same time.”

On a more personal note, he joked, “What more people to people contact do we need, my son is Pakistani.”

He was saddened at the security situation in Pakistan, especially after 2009 — the “black year” for the country. But all is not bad. Ambassador Saravia said that the human rights situation has improved drastically in Pakistan. “Each report shows a better picture, [but] of course there is room for improvement,” he said.

Patience, he added, is the only way to cope with the challenges that the young democracy is facing.

The ambassador, who grew a beard over the years he was here, said that he could easily pass for a Pakhtun but his security personnel would give him away. The ambassador spent almost four years in Pakistan and will be reporting back to Spain in two months.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2012.

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