Ambassador of Italy to Pakistan Andreas Ferrarese on Tuesday said that the business environment in Pakistan is much better now and that his country wants to further strengthen bilateral trade and economic relations with Pakistan to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. He said that the 21st century is the century of Asia and Italy wants to develop closer cooperation with Pakistan and help it to improve the competitiveness of its economy. He expressed these views while addressing the business community during his visit to Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He termed lack of awareness in the Italian business community about Pakistan as a problem for trade promotion, however, he said that efforts are being made to bring the Italian Trade Commissioner from Dubai to Pakistan that would help in addressing the issues and improving bilateral trade between the two countries. He said that Pakistan should focus on value addition of its products and Italy can help it with its advanced technology in various fields including marble and tourism. He said that the Italian embassy is considering giving long-term business visas to prominent Pakistani businessmen on the recommendation of Pakistani chambers of commerce and industry. He congratulated President ICCI and his team of the new office bearers and expressed good wishes for them. Speaking at the occasion, Muhammad Shakeel Munir, President, ICCI said that the bilateral trade of less than $2 billion between Pakistan and Italy is not reflective of their true potential and urged that both countries to focus on developing strong business linkages between their private sectors to increase bilateral trade volume. He said that Italy has advanced technology and its technological cooperation with Pakistan in textiles, construction, marble, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, processed food, dairy, livestock and other sectors would enable our country to upgrade its industrial capacity and produce value added products for exports promotion. He said that Pakistan has huge reserves of marble and granite and Italian technology would help it to produce value-added marble products and boost their exports. He said that Pakistan is keen to promote its tourism sector and Italy’s cooperation in this field would help Pakistan to develop a modern tourism infrastructure. He said that Pakistan provides easy access to the Middle East, Central Asia and Southeast Asia and by investing in Pakistan, Italian companies can promote exports to many regional markets. He said that Pakistan is establishing many SEZs under CPEC projects, which offers great incentives to foreign investors and added that Italian companies should explore JVs and investment in these SEZs. He assured that ICCI would like to work closely with the Italian Embassy to explore new avenues of enhancing bilateral trade and economic relations between the two countries.