ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: In line with the Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s long-term focus on Economic Diplomacy, a third Virtual Envoys meeting on the subject was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad on Wednesday.
With an emphasis on Africa and held under the government’s ‘Engage Africa’ initiative, Pakistan’s Heads of Missions in Abuja, Addis Abba, Algiers, Nairobi, Tripoli, Port Louis, Rabat, Pretoria, Niamey, Khartoum, Dar es Salam, Dakar, Harare, and Tunis participated in the meeting.
Underlining the shift from geo-politics to geo-economics, the Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi emphasized the importance of economic diplomacy as a key component of modern diplomatic practice.
The foreign minister said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was at the forefront of safeguarding and protecting Pakistan’s economic interests through initiatives like Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Global Initiative on Debt Relief for Developing Countries.
The Ministry and the Missions abroad were also working on advancing the Roshan Digital Account and the Home Remittances and the Prime Minister’s Economic Outreach Initiatives.
Noting the importance of Africa as the “Continent of Future” with 54 Countries and a population of 1.3 billion, the foreign minister said that Pakistan enjoyed friendly relations and political goodwill in African Countries that needed to be translated into a more robust economic partnership.
Recognizing this, Pakistan had embarked on the ‘Engage Africa’ initiative aimed at expanding Pakistan’s diplomatic footprint and deepening economic engagement with Africa.
Qureshi said that as part of this initiative, Pakistan’s outreach and presence in Africa was being significantly enhanced. An Envoys Conference on Africa was held in November 2019 followed by the first-ever Pakistan-Africa Trade Development Conference in Nairobi in January 2020.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi remarked that the initiative had started paying off with a 7% growth in Pakistan’s trade with Africa despite the COVID-19 related challenges.
The foreign minister encouraged envoys to cultivate and broaden mutually beneficial trade and economic partnerships with African Countries, focusing on key goals of trade promotion, financial inflows, investments, remittances, tourism, and technology transfer.
During the meeting, the Pakistani envoys apprised the foreign minister of their activities in the economic and commercial domain.
They highlighted specific steps in the follow-up of the Trade Development Conference and apprised of measures to strengthen existing linkages and forging new ones for enhanced economic collaboration.
In keeping with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision, the foreign minister has consistently sought to strengthen Pakistan’s economic diplomacy footprint.
The foreign minister has been regularly holding virtual meetings on economic diplomacy with Pakistani envoys in key Countries.
Today’s virtual Envoys meeting focusing on the Africa region is the first of a series of region-specific economic diplomacy meetings scheduled over the coming months.