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January 25, 2020

Pakistan looks to Africa to boost trade beyond traditional markets

Business

January 25, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is launching a top-level drive to expand its trade ties with African nations, a sign of the country’s eagerness to boost its stagnant exports beyond traditional markets, a statement said on Friday.

“Under the ‘Look Africa Policy initiative’, the ministry of commerce is organising the Pakistan - Africa Trade Development Conference in Nairobi, Kenya from January 30-31, 2020, which is first of its kind, as over two hundred delegates (officials and businessmen) from twenty African countries, arranged by Pakistan Missions abroad, are going to participate in the conference,” the ministry said.

“Main reason of the low trade volume had been low level of engagement of Pakistan with Africa,” the statement said.

Previous government of Pakistan Muslim League (N) had rolled out ‘Look Africa Plan’ in August 2017 with stringent measures to boost bilateral trade between Pakistan and Africa in the upcoming years.

Pakistan’s trade with Africa has remained stagnant at $3 billion/year from 2012-13 to 2016-17, which has increased to $4.6 billion in 2018-19. Pakistan’s share in total trade of African countries is 0.4 percent.

The statement said the commerce ministry launched ‘Look Africa Initiative’, which envisaged various measures to enhance trade with Africa and increase outreach to major African economies

In 2019, the government had relocated six commercial sections from Europe to Africa taking the total number to ten, to cover top ten economies of Africa.

The participating countries in the planned conference include Pakistan, Kenya, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Senegal, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Niger, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Mauritius, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi.

“The advisor to Prime Minister on trade and minister for foreign affairs will lead Pakistani delegation,” the statement added.

“The foreign minister and trade minister of Kenya have confirmed participation and Kenyan government is providing full support for the event. The state minister of trade from Uganda is also going to attend the conference.”

The statement said Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, will inaugurate the conference. “A delegation of over hundred leading Pakistani companies, in major export sectors, having potential in Africa, has been arranged by TDAP (Trade Development Authority Pakistan).”

The statement said Pakistan-Africa relations will be discussed in the conference, specially, “ways and means to enhance trade, develop banking and transportation channels, improve engagement and connectivity and remove tariff and non-tariff barriers”.

A presentation on ‘business and investment opportunities in Pakistan’ will be given, followed by sectoral presentations by Pakistani businessmen, presentations by African trading blocs/countries. In addition, to the conference, B2B, G2B and G2G meetings are arranged.