ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: As part of the government’s efforts to promote Economic Diplomacy, the Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a meeting with European Envoys based in Islamabad on Thursday.
The meeting was attended by Envoys from the EU, Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Norway, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Russia, Ukraine, Spain, Greece, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, Belgium, and the UK.
In his remarks, the foreign minister stated that the purpose of the meeting was to review Pakistan’s economic engagement with European countries, identify impediments to fulfilling its true potential, and chart a way forward. In this regard, he shared with the Envoys the outcome of his two recent virtual meetings with Pakistani Heads of Mission in Europe.
Highlighting Europe’s position as Pakistan’s largest trading partner, Qureshi underscored the importance of consolidating and expanding Pakistan’s economic outreach with the Continent.
The foreign minister noted that, under the GSP Plus scheme, Pakistan’s bilateral trade with the EU had doubled over the past eight years. There, however, was still room to realize the full potential.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan’s exports to and investments from many European countries had increased.
The foreign minister underlined the importance of addressing bottlenecks that could hamper mutually beneficial economic collaboration. He highlighted the need to strengthen the mechanism of JECs. In this regard, a calendar of JECs to be held in 2021 was being finalized.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi apprised the European Envoys of the various reforms introduced by the government to improve business and investment climate which have brought an impressive improvement in Pakistan’s Ease of Doing Business ranking.
Welcoming the support extended to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ‘Global Initiative on Debt Relief’ for developing countries, the Foreign Minister said that more was needed to be done. He further stressed the need for coordinated efforts to combat the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The participating Envoys appreciated the Foreign Minister’s efforts to promote mutually beneficial economic partnerships and offered valuable suggestions.
This was the second region-specific interaction focused on economic diplomacy held this year. The first one was held with African Envoys in January.