Ambassador of Argentina to Pakistan Leopoldo Francisco Shores on Saturday called for a new strategy to cement trade and economic ties between the two countries, saying that there has a vast scope to enhance cooperation in the agriculture and livestock sectors.
He was discussing bilateral trade relations with businessmen at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir, Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan, and Vice President Haris Ateeq also spoke on the occasion while Executive Committee Members Naeem Hanif, Muhammad Nadeem Malik, Rizwan Haider and former Vice President Mian Zahid Jawaid Ahmad were also present.
The ambassador said that the agriculture sector of Punjab has a noteworthy share in the GDP of Pakistan while Argentina has also made great progress in this sector. He stressed the need for more collaboration between the two counties in this sector to yield better outcomes. He said that Argentina has a keen interest in extending cooperation to Pakistan in different sectors.
“This is an important year as the diplomatic relations between the two countries have completed 70 years,” the envoy said, adding that strong B2B (business to business) contacts and exchange of trade delegations are vital to lifting the mutual trade to the peak.
He said that good results can be achieved if the traders of both countries are brought together on one platform and the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry is a key player in this regard.
LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that Argentina, being the world’s 8th largest country, has many features that make it quite distinctive from the rest of the world. Argentina is a great source of valuable minerals and interestingly its name comes from the Latin word ‘argentum’ which means silver.
He said that Argentina is ranked among the world’s leading nations on account of the production of livestock and cereals. He said that the economy of Argentina is almost twice the size of Pakistan’s economy and it is ranked at 31st place among the GDP-wise biggest economies in the world. On the same list, Pakistan comes at 46th place.
Mian Nauman Kabir said that other than maintaining good diplomatic relations, Pakistan and Argentina are regular trading partners as well. By giving MFN status to each other in 2002, both countries found the basis of further developing economic relations.
He said that although the balance of trade is in favor of Argentina it is good to see that bilateral trade is following an increasing trend. As per figures taken from the State Bank of Pakistan, the two-way trade inched up from 102 million dollars in 2019-20 to 116 million dollars in 2020-21.
The LCCI President said that Pakistan’s imports from Argentina increased from 69 million dollars in 2019-20 to 80 million dollars in 2020-21 whereas our exports to Argentina showed a slight increase during the last two years by reaching 36 million dollars in 2020-21 as compared to 33 million dollars in 2019-20.
“We expect even better raise in trade figures this year as, during the first four months, our exports to Argentina have been around 17 million dollars while imports have been recorded around 32 million dollars. However, we wish to close the gap of trade deficit by diversifying our export items to Argentina”, he added.
He said that Pakistan’s exports to Argentina consist of woven fabrics, sports goods, chemicals, surgical instruments, home textile items, salt, and cotton yarn, etc. “Our major items of imports from Argentina are cotton, soya-bean oil, dried vegetables, medicaments, products of iron or non-alloy steel, seeds, uncoated paper, and paperboard, etc.”
Mian Nauman Kabir said that there is definitely a need for finding new products lines and new avenues of cooperation for enhancing Pakistan’s exports to Argentina. “I think that the Embassy of Argentina can become a reliable source of disseminating trade-related information to curtail communication gap.
“This is where the role of your office becomes very important. Please guide us as to how we can achieve these objectives,” he added.
The LCCI president was of the view that there is great room for trade and economic cooperation in the fields of agriculture, livestock, tourism, pharmaceuticals, renewable energy and automotive production. He said that both the countries should undertake frequent activities like exchange of business delegations, participation in trade fairs & exhibitions, etc., to ensure a continuous liaison. He said that the closer interaction between the Chambers of the two countries can be highly beneficial. He added that both the countries should establish stronger trade links between two countries and explore further areas of joint ventures.
“We are greatly inspired by the cultural diversity of Argentina as it is a unique blend of Spanish, Italian, and European cultures. Buenos Aires is often referred to as ‘Little Europe’ because it is home to fantastic European architecture in a South American setting,” the LCCI president said.