By;Asghar Ali Mubarak; January, 27, 2018
Islamabad: The third Session of Pak-Italy Joint Economic Commission is scheduled to be held in Rome, Italy on 29-30 January, 2018. Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan, Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs will lead the Pakistani delegation and Co-chair the session along with Ivan Scalfarotto, Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Italy.On 29th January 2018, both sides will have discussions/negotiations on various agenda items and sign the Protocol/agreed minutes of the JEC on 30th January.Both sides will review the recent economic outlook and the economic development goals of their respective Countries in the coming years. They will exchange views on the prospects of the bilateral commercial and investment relationship between the two Countries. They will sign three Letters of Intent on cooperation in the areas of textile, footwear and gemstones industry. An MoU between Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and ICE-Italian Trade Agency is also expected to be signed. Again, a Memorandum of Intent between Pakistan Stone Development Company (PASDEC) and its Italian counterpart Confidustria Mardomacchine will also be inked on this occasion. The JEC will especially focus on joint projects to expand technology transfers, multi-sector training, services and technical support, by engaging public and private actors, sharing the common objective to support the growth and competitiveness of SMEs.It is worth mentioning that Italy has been supporting Pakistan through humanitarian as well as technical assistance in rehabilitation projects carried out through the provincial governments and civil society organizations, as well as by a contribution worth €40 million to poverty reduction through Rural Development in Balochistan, KPK and bordering areas of Afghanistan. Italy has also approved soft loans amounting to €22.50 million for Gilgit-Baltistan Economic Transformation Initiatives and €20 million for Professional Capacity Building and Extension in Agriculture (TVET). Italy has cancelled debt amounting to Rs.6.4 billion (€ 64 million), roughly 77% of the total amount of debt amounting to Rs.8.2 billion (€ 72 million) owed by Government of Pakistan. Pak–Italian Debt Swap Agreement (PIDSA) will be completed by end of 2018, and the remaining debt will also be cancelled by the Italian Government.