Ambassador of Pakistan to Italy Jauhar Saleem on Sunday signaled the start of talks on a ‘labour and labour force import agreement’ between Italy and Pakistan for providing more opportunities to local skilled youth to get employment in the competitive Italian Job market. “The agreement is the need of the hour for the exchange of legal workforce and legal migration between the two countries” he said. The current strong economic and trade ties between the two countries will help foster such agreements, which will bring the two countries closer together, the ambassador said while talking to the media through the 3rd phase of a series of digital ‘Zoom Link’ media talks organised by the embassy of Pakistan in Rome. The ambassador said the Pakistani embassy in Rome is currently working to provide legal assistance to Pakistani migrants, and the ‘Workforce Export Agreement’ between Italy and Pakistan is one such link for creating opportunities for local skilled labour in the Italian market. Jauhar Saleem said Italy and Pakistan have agreed in principle to negotiate a labour agreement that will give Pakistan comprehensive market access to the Italian labour market. He said that this labour agreement could also help to stop the process of sending workforce illegally in Italy as well as other European countries. Jauhar Saleem said that “our youth in Pakistan are very talented and now through this agreement, we will be able to export skilled labour to the EU, which will enable them to do well in the competitive market here and also increase the flow of remittances into the country.” He said that the agreement would also address the labour internship program and the training of the tourism labor force, which would further enhance the capacity of our skilled labour. Asked about the popularity of Pakistani rice in the Italian market, he said that at present India had taken its case regarding the branding of Pakistani ‘Basmati Rice’ to the EU Agriculture and Trade Committee, for which “we have fully prepared.” Adding that India’s claim is unrealistic and illegal, he said, “We have completed our defense and the decision will be expected by September 5, which can be challenged.” The ambassador said that despite the Indian false claim over Basmati`s exclusive Geographical Indication (GI) rights in the EU and Italian market, Pakistan maintained its position as market leader in rice with 37.4 percent share whereas India supplied only 12 percent of the total imported rice in Italy. He said that India is worried about the current situation as Pakistani rice has emerged as a top brand in the Italian market, where India had a monopoly. Replying to a question on bilateral trade, he said that Pakistan and Italy have agreed to enhance cooperation in the fields of trade, labour market, tourism, agriculture, energy, investment, innovation and skills and media sectors are in the final stages. He informed me that Italian firms are investing in energy, food processing, leather, textile, construction and furnishing. He added that the mission was promoting joint venture mode for Italian investment in Pakistan that will help in technology and skill transfer to our businesses. He informed that Pakistan had been included in Italian Seasonal Work Visa for 2022 which would offer an immense opportunity for our labor force working in the agriculture and services sector to come and work in Italy with legal entry mode. Jauhar Saleem said that once the travel restrictions are eased there will be an increased number of Italian investor delegations to Pakistan. He also highlighted the initiatives that have been taken to promote tourism, especially capacity building of Pakistan`s tourism sector stakeholders through Italian experts.