‘Continent of future’: Pakistan seeks enhanced trade ties with African states

FM Qureshi says recent initiatives led to 7pc growth in trade with Africa despite Covid-related challenges

ISLAMABAD: Terming Africa as the ‘continent of future’, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while chairing a virtual meeting on economic diplomacy, said that the friendly relationship Pakistan enjoys with African states should be translated into a robust economic friendship.

With 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.

Pakistan’s ‘Engage Africa’ initiative is aimed at Pakistan’s diplomatic footprint and deepening economic engagement with 1.3 billion people who live in 54 African countries.

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Qureshi said that as part of this initiative, Pakistan’s outreach and presence in Africa has significantly improved. He added that in November 2019, an envoys conference on Africa was held and was soon followed by the first-ever Pakistan-Africa trade development conference in Nairobi in January 2020.

He further said that the initiative led to a 7 per cent growth in Pakistan’s trade with Africa despite coronavirus-related challenges.

Keeping in view the premier’s vision, the foreign minister has been holding regular meetings on economic diplomacy with Pakistani envoys in key countries. Wednesday’s meeting was the first of a series of region-specific economic diplomacy meetings scheduled for the coming months.

During the meeting, Qureshi encourage envoys to cultivate and broaden mutually-beneficial trade and economic partnerships with African countries, focusing on key goals such as trade promotion, financial inflows, investments, remittances, tourism and technology transfer.

Underlining the shift from geo-politics to geo-economics, he emphasised the importance of economic diplomacy as a key component of modern diplomatic practice. He added that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was at the forefront of safeguarding and protecting Pakistan’s economic interests through initiatives like Prime Minister’s Global Initiative on Debt Relief for Developing Countries.

The foreign minister said that his ministry and its missions abroad were also working on advancing the Roshan Digital Account and Home Remittances and the Prime Minister’s Economic Outreach Initiatives.

During the meeting, the envoys appraised Qureshi of their activities in economic and commercial domain, and highlighted specific steps in follow-up of the trade development conference. They also apprised him of measures to strengthen existing ties and for forging new ones for enhanced economic collaboration.

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