The All Pakistan Business Forum (APBF) and Italian National Organization for Pakistan & Italy (ANIP) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to bolster business activities between Pakistan and Italy. APBF newly-elected President Syed Maaz Mahmood inked the MoU on behalf of Pakistan, while ANIP President Karim Benvenuto represented his country. The ceremony was held at a local hotel on Wednesday. Punjab Assembly deputy speaker Dost Mazari, APBF former president Ibrahim Qureshi, general secretary Khurram Niaz and executive committee members were present on the occasion. According to the MoU, both the organizations would work together to improve the trade, commerce and economic relations between Pakistan and Italy. They would adopt a new strategy for exchange of information relating to their respective markets. The accord would help facilitate the exchange of trade teams between the two associations. The participants from both sides also vowed to work jointly to identify snags affecting trade between them. Speaking on the occasion, APBF president Syed Maaz Mehmood said that the MoU is a significant step in bringing the both the associations together. He said that bilateral trade between Pakistan and Italy needs to be enhanced as both the countries have potential and resources to strengthen their economic ties. He said that Pakistan’s share in two-way trade is not significant, but the MoU between the two trade bodies is a step in the right direction as it will help increase the overall volume of trade between the two countries. ANIP President Karim Benvenuto observed that a large number of renowned Italian companies are presently exploring Pakistan as an investment option because the country has ample supply of cheap labour, with potential to be a regional hub for exports. He appreciated the APBF for arranging the ceremony, aimed at promoting trade relations between Italy and Pakistan by conducting by B2B meetings and match making in various sectors. Pakistan provides significant trade links including to China and central Asian region, he observed adding that several Italian companies were viewing Pakistan as the next possible investment destination. APBF former president Ibrahim Qureshi appreciated ANIP’s plans for improving economic and business ties between the two countries. He assured them that APBF would fully facilitate Italian businessmen interested in investing in Pakistan. APBF wants to diversify Pakistan exports and want to find new partners for doing business. I believe that Pakistan really has a lot of potential to promote itself, and Italy is one country which provides excellent business opportunities, he said. Punjab Assembly deputy speaker Dost Mazari, while addressing the meeting, said that the incumbent government was determined to promote bilateral trade and export-led growth of the economy. He said that the government would give priority to the promotion of export-led growth by enhancing exports and reduce dependence on imports, adding, it had identified many sectors that would boost exports from the country. He said that export promotion strategy would focus on increasing the country’s exports to compete with regional and global players in the international market. Published in Daily Times, December 6th 2018.