ISLAMABAD  - Ali Javed, Additional Secretary (Africa), Ministry of Foreign Affairs has urged the business community to focus on Africa for trade and exports as the African continent offers huge potential to Pakistan for enhancing trade ties.

He said this while addressing as the chief guest of the Africa Day celebrated at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI). Mohamed Karmoune, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco & Dean of the African Corps, Atadjan Movlamov, Ambassador of Turkmenistan and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, diplomats of African countries, ambassadors of Azerbaijan, Jordan, Kuwait and Vietnam, counsellor of French Embassy, Senator Lt. Gen. (r) Abdul Qayyum and a large number of the business community representatives were present at the occasion. Ali Javed said that Pakistan has now increased its ambassadors up to 20 in the African region in order to improve its trade and economic ties and added that the government would cooperate with the business community in exploring new opportunities of promoting exports to African countries.

Mohamed Karmoune, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco & Dean of the African Corps, said that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area comprising 55 countries with a population of around 1.4 billion holds tremendous economic prospects for Pakistan and the private sector should take benefit of it by enhancing trade cooperation with African countries. He stressed that the Pakistani business community should explore JVs and investment in Africa, which is emerging as the continent of future. He highlighted agriculture, industry, mining, IT, renewable energy, textiles, pharmaceuticals, transport, tourism and infrastructure as potential areas of cooperation between Pakistan and Africa.

Speaking at the occasion, Muhammad Shakeel Munir, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, urged the government to facilitate the private sector in promoting strong business linkages with African counterparts that would help in exploring new areas of bilateral business collaboration.

He said that the pandemic has subsided now and it is the right time that both sides should facilitate frequent exchange of trade delegations to improve bilateral trade relations. He said that the government should increase its footprint in Africa by posting more trade envoys and opening more trade wings at Pakistani Embassies in Africa.

He also urged the government to initiate market access negotiations for bilateral and multilateral trade agreements with African countries that would help in boosting Pakistan’s trade and exports with Africa.Khalid Iqbal Malik, Chairman Founder Group, said that Africa’s rich natural resources, vast import market, strong economic growth patterns and a new continent-wide framework for free trade offer unique opportunities to Pakistan and urged the business community to accelerate efforts to develop strong trade ties with African countries in order to achieve multiple benefits for our economy.