ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Iraq in Pakistan Hamid Abbas Lafta on Sunday said that Pakistan and Iraq will sign agreements on cooperation in various sectors, including trade promotion and tariff rationalization to enhance the bilateral economic and trade ties.
Pakistan and Iraq will sign 10 agreements to promote such cooperation in coming June, which will mark the beginning of a new era in enhancing bilateral relations, the Ambassador of Iraq to Pakistan told APP here.
These agreements will be signed on tax and tariff exemptions, economic and trade cooperation, promotion of diplomatic cooperation, human trafficking, Coordination in crime, drug and air connectivity, he said.
Ambassador Lafta said that there was a huge potential for the development of bilateral trade between the two countries in near future.Ambassador said that Iraq was a free market where there were vast opportunities for Pakistani investors, from which the local business community can benefit from.
He said the current $100 million bilateral trade needs to be doubled, which would require new petroleum, tourism cooperation on both sides and more facilities for mutual air travel. Talks are also underway to make air connectivity more effective in both the countries and agreements will be signed in this regard, he added.
Ambassador said that in order to improve economic and trade cooperation, it was necessary to know each other’s markets and in this regard exhibitions and seminars should be organized to increase the interest of business class and investors of both the countries to promote mutual economic cooperation.
He said that about 200 businessmen had gone to Iraq to participate in the trade exhibition this year 2022.In response to another question, he said that 200,000 Pakistanis go to Iraq every year for religious tourism, the number of which is increasing every year and the Iraqi government provides them with best facilities in every way possible.
The Iraqi Envoy said that these thousands of religious devotees visit the Iraqi cities of Karbala, Najaf and Baghdad every year and their locals do not leave any stone unturned in their service and love.
In addition, there is a need to attract Pakistanis for traditional tourism in the tourist areas of Iraq, which will boost tourism on both sides, he said.
He said that special attention is being paid to the facilities for tourists in Iraq and there are many opportunities for foreign tourists to come to Iraq for tourism.
In response to another question, he said that Iraq is currently one of the largest producers of petroleum in the world.He said that Iraq was ready to meet the energy needs of Pakistan and talks were underway between the two countries in this regard.
The Iraqi ambassador said that Iraq has vast potential for investment in the following sectors of the petroleum and energy sector and that local investors could play their best role in this regard.
He said, “We want to promote mutual cooperation with Pakistan in petro-chemical and other fields of energy and in this regard technical support and mutual cooperation can be extended in every possible way.” Hamid Abbas Lafta also said that there are numerous investment opportunities for Pakistani companies in the construction sector in southern Iraq.
In this regard, some Pakistani companies have also expressed their interest which will help the two sides to understand each other.He said that interaction between the people of the two countries was already sufficient but more work was needed in this regard in order to further improve the public relations between the two countries and pass on this legacy to the next generation.
The Ambassador said that Pakistan is a youth-majority country and the youth in Iraq and Pakistan need to be made aware of the historical religious ties that span centuries.
Responding to a question, he said that Arab countries are not new to Pakistan and Pakistan’s relations with the middle East, especially Iraq will be of utmost importance in future.
He said that there is awareness on both sides required in this regard and “We will continue our serious efforts.”The Ambassador of Iraq to Pakistan, Hamid Abbas Lafta is a seasoned diplomat with a diplomatic career spanning 18 years.