Chief Executive Officer Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) Mian Kashif Ashfaq Sunday disclosed that for first time in Pakistan’s history, the country’s exports to Italy exceeds the imports from Italy depicting upward trends in promotion of bilateral trade between the two countries. Talking to a delegation of exporters and importers led by honorary Investment Consular and Tourism Ambassador for Italy Muhammad Sheheryar Khan, he said bilateral trade volume between Italy and Pakistan has exponentially grown from €1.42b in 2019 to €1.52b in 2021. He said Ambassador of Italy to Pakistan, Andreas Ferrarese, is a key driving force behind the further cementing trade relations with both countries. He said although global trade shrank during the Covid-19 pandemic, Pakistan’s exports to Italy in 2021 grew by 22.1pc, with a total value of €763.51m. In the same period, Italian exports to Pakistan saw an increase of 48.6pc, with a total value of €754.06m. The trade volume in Jan-Feb 2022 stood at €289.37m compared to €203.41m during the same year in 2021 he added. With its unique geo-strategic location and improved security conditions, Mian Kashif Ashfaq further said that Pakistan offers excellent investment opportunities for Italian companies. With a population of around 220m and a constantly growing demand for high-end products, Pakistan remains an attractive market for Italian manufacturers and businesspeople. He said it is worth mentioning that remittances from Pakistani workers in Italy hit an all-time high. With the figures of $711.7m in FY22, Italy has become the seventh-largest center of worker remittances to Pakistan globally and the top one in the EU countries. Moreover, Italy is home to more than 150,000 Pakistanis, the largest Pakistani diaspora in Europe (after Brexit). Engaged in various production sectors in Italy, they continue to contribute to both countries’ economies. Mian Kashif further stated that Italy is among the top ten exporting countries for Pakistan globally and the third largest trade partner in European Union. Apart from business and trade, Italy has carried out significant projects in archaeology, agriculture, health, culture, and tourism. Italy’s Archaeological Mission is one of the oldest present missions in Pakistan and has made significant contributions to Pakistan’s already rich archaeological sphere. Mian Kashif Ashfaq said the Embassy of Italy in Islamabad is committed to boosting commercial ties between the two countries. Muhammad Sheheryar Khan honorary investment consular and tourism ambassador of Pakistan to Italy stressed the urgent need that both countries should explore all the possible avenues focusing on agriculture, machinery, textiles, and tourism, he concluded.