FM for more robust economic partnership with African countries

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi Wednesday while underlining the importance of Africa as ‘continent of future’, said that Pakistan enjoyed friendly relations and political goodwill in African countries that needed to be translated into a more robust economic partnership.

He said Pakistan had embarked on the ‘Engage Africa’ initiative, aimed at expanding Pakistan’s diplomatic footprint and deepening economic engagement with Africa, having 54 countries and a population of 1.3 billion.

The foreign minister was chairing a third virtual envoys meeting regarding long-term focus on economic diplomacy, Foreign Office spokesperson said in a press release.

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.

Foreign minister 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, he added.

He said the initiative had started paying off with a 7% growth in Pakistan’s trade with Africa despite the Covid-19 related challenges.

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.

The virtual envoys’ meeting focusing on Africa region was the first of a series of region-specific economic diplomacy meetings scheduled over the coming months.

The foreign minister also 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. 

Underlining the shift from geo-politics to geo-economics, the foreign minister emphasized the importance of economic diplomacy as a key component of modern diplomatic practice.

He said the ministry of foreign affairs was at the forefront of safeguarding and protecting Pakistan’s economic interests through initiatives like the Prime Minister’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, he added.

During the meeting, the envoys apprised the foreign minister of their activities in economic and commercial domain.

They highlighted specific steps in follow-up of the Trade Development Conference and apprised of measures to strengthen existing linkages and forging new ones for enhanced economic collaboration.