Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Pakistan Ali Alizada called on the Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile, Muhammad Pervaiz Malik today in Islamabad. Commerce Minister welcomed the ambassador and said that Pakistan and Azerbaijan enjoy friendly and cooperative relations. Commerce Minister said that there exists great potential between the two countries but the bilateral trade is not a true reflection of that. He said that Trade volume between the two countries has declined from US $ 58.26 million in 2015-16 to US $ 26.88 million in 2016-17 and a concerted effort is needed on both sides to increase the trade volume and economic cooperation.
“The decrease in Pakistan’s exports to Azerbaijan in 2016-17 is mainly due to decline in export of rice to Azerbaijan from US $ 45 million to US $ 21.1 million”, he added. Commerce Minister said that there exists good scope for export of ready-made garments, cotton products, engineering goods, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, rice, textile fabrics, sports goods, surgical instruments and tents from Pakistan and import of non-ferrous metals, oil and oil products, canned fruit juices, raw cotton, LPG from Azerbaijan. “There is need to increase the Business to Business & Government to Government interactions and exchange of delegations to identify the business opportunities that will in turn result in increasing the Trade volume”, he added. The first meeting of the Pakistan-Azerbaijan Joint Working Group on Trade was held on July 27, 2017 at Baku, Azerbaijan.
Mr. Mohammad Younus Dagha, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce was the Co-chair from Pakistan side and Mr. Sahil Babayev, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Economy, from Azerbaijan side. The issues of Tariff and Non-Tariff, exploring possibility of having bilateral PTA and regional connectivity came under discussion. Commerce Minister informed the ambassador that in order to enhance and diversify trade with Azerbaijan, Ministry of Commerce has prepared a draft MoU on five year trade cooperation plan that has been shared with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for onward transmission to the relevant authorities of Azerbaijan for their comments but response from Azerbaijan side is awaited.
Commerce Minister said that Pakistan is a profitable market and investors from Azerbaijan should take full advantage of it by investing in different sectors. He said that Pakistani government and Ministry of Commerce & Textile will provide full support in this regard. Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Pakistan Ali Alizada said that Pakistan is a lucrative market for investors from Azerbaijan and they are keenly interested in investment. He also agreed with the minister’s proposal for increased interaction and institutional arrangements to discuss trade related issues and identify areas of interest to boost bilateral trade and cooperation. Later on, the Ambassador of Romania, Mr. Nicolae Gola called on the Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile Mr. Mohammad Pervaiz Malik. The Commerce Minister welcomed the ambassador and said that Pakistan attaches great importance to its trade relations with Romania as it is an important trading partner of Pakistan within the European Union region.
Pakistan’s bilateral trade with Romania was US $ 97.25 million in 2016-2017. Pakistan’s exports were US $ 21.23 million while imports were US $ 76.02 million. Commerce Minister thanked the Romanian government for extending their support to Pakistan for continuation of the GSP plus scheme and hoped that Pakistan would continue receiving their support in this regards as it has helped Pakistan in a significant way in overcoming its economic difficulties. Under this scheme most products of Pakistan has duty free access to EU including Romania. Commerce Minister also demanded that a business visa of multiple entries with one year validity may be issued to Pakistani businessmen. The ambassador thanked Commerce Minister for the warm welcome and said that there should be increased interaction for boosting bilateral trade. “Business Communities of the two countries may interact more to increase the level of bilateral trade and both the countries should participate in Trade Fairs arranged by the two countries”, he added. Both sides agreed on making institutional arrangements for addressing trade related issues and identifying business opportunities.