ISLAMABAD                  -              Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce, Industries and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood Thursday said that Pakistan wants to double its trade with Africa countries in the next five years to increasing the bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

The advisor said the trade volume between Pakistan and Africa has been far below potential, which need to be increased, the advisor said this while addressing to “Pak-Africa Trade Development Conference was held in Nairobi (Kenya),organised by Ministry of Commerce, said a press release issued by Ministry of Commerce here .

He said this Conference is an important initiative to bring together businessmen from Africa under one roof to explore and open up new frontiers for enhancing trade and this move towards achieving the shared vision of economic development for the betterment of our people.

Razak said this Conference will synergise our efforts to capitalize upon economic opportunities and is a testimony of our Government’s strong commitment to enhancing trade and economic cooperation with Africa. He said that in 2018, Africa’s annual global trade was $1.075 trillion.

On the other hand, Africa-Pakistan’s trade has remained stagnant at a meager $3 billion for many years, he added. The advisor said that it only crossed $4 billion during the last two years, reaching $4.28 billion in 2018-19 which still is a fraction of the total trade.

He further said that with a collective Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2.45 trillion (2018) and a projected to be 4.1 percent in 2020 and it’s time for the world to acknowledge this robust economic performance. Until now, Africa has been a distant frontier for Pakistan economically.

He said that it well below its true potential and also does not reflect the warm cultural and social ties. “It’s time to unlock the true potential of our trade relations.”

 Regional cooperation also needs to enhance trade and connectivity is the key to socio-economic uplift and development, he added. There is huge potential of trade between Pakistan and Africa but “we need to enhance connectivity with Africa.”

 “I have a strong belief that trade and connectivity are two sides of the same coin and it is not possible to have one without the other.” He informed that logistics and transport affect trading activities because they determine shipping times, costs of handling, and delivery of goods.

On the other hand, reduction of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers by both side, is also necessary which acts as a catalyst for accelerated growth in bilateral trade.

He said that given the concrete opportunities that exist between the two sides, Pakistan-Africa trade could easily be increased manifolds in coming years. Kenya being the longstanding friend and an important trading partner, offers the best platform for the same. He urged that this august Forum to accept this challenge and work together to achieve it. He said that time has come to translate the excellent bilateral relations into mutually beneficial economic gains.

The Ministry of Commerce has formulated the “Look Africa Policy Initiative” which has already been put into motion and this is reflective of our broader policy towards Africa.

The adviser said that “we need to exchange more manufactured and processed goods, have more knowledge transfer, and create more value.

Both sides need to accelerate export diversification and product sophistication and make our trade more inclusive, he said. Razak said his will enable us to shift from an over dependence on commodities to higher-value added products and services. It will also build resilience to movements in demand and help in fetching better prices. This is the fastest path to economic growth, job creation and poverty reduction, he added. He said that increasing Pakistan’s footprint in Africa the government have posting more trade envoys. In this regard, “we are opening 6 new Trade Wings at our Embassies in Africa.

He said that these include Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Senegal, Sudan and Tanzania. This has increased the number to 10. They would also be granted accreditation’s to cover the whole continent.  He said that Pakistan is open to discuss all proposals by our friends in Africa at bilateral and multilateral level.

“We are already in touch SACU, ECOWAS and EAC to negotiate trade agreements and also plan to take advantage of the opportunities that exists under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Razak said that Pakistan can supply rice, engineering goods, electrical appliances, textiles, apparel, pharmaceuticals, sports goods, surgical instruments, cutlery, furniture and many more products. Similarly, Pakistan can be a good market for supply by the African exporters.

“We are viewing that despite challenges, there would be a steady, gradual but persistent growth in Pakistan-Africa trade with enhanced level of engagement by both sides, public officials as well as private sector.