Ambassador of Tunisia Adel Elarbi has said on Monday that his country is interested in enhancing bilateral trade with Pakistan, as increased cooperation in trade would be highly beneficial for both the countries.

Talking to the traders at the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI)on Monday, he said Pakistan could get better access to the world’s largest markets like Europe, North Africa and Middle East through Tunisia, while Tunisia, on the other hand, could reach the Asian markets by enhancing cooperation with Pakistan. He said Tunisia was one of the major exporters of a high quality and healthy olive oil at competitive rates, and Pakistani olive oil importers should avail this opportunity to promote their business.

The ambassador said 80 percent of trade of Tunisia was with Europe, and the Pakistani investors should explore the opportunities for investment there so that it could increase its exports to Europe and North African countries. Elarbi identified agriculture, textiles, electronics, tourism and services as potential areas of cooperation between the two countries.

He was hopeful that Pak-Tunisia preferential trade agreement would be signed this year, which would help in enhancing bilateral trade between the two countries.

He assured the businessmen that he would try to facilitate them in obtaining visas so that they could easily visit Tunisia to explore business opportunities there.

Speaking on the occasion, ICCI President Atif Ikram Sheikh said that Pak-Tunisia bilateral trade during 2014-15 was just $33.08 million, and hectic efforts from both sides were required to make significant improvement in it. He said both countries should encourage frequent exchange of trade delegations and organise exhibitions on reciprocal basis to increase bilateral trade volume.

The ICCI president said Pakistan could export rice, pharmaceutical, surgical, leather, sports and many other products to Tunisia, and added, “There is a good scope for the export of Pakistani fabrics, which after value addition in Tunisia could be exported to the European and other countries.

Sheikh further said that both the countries should sign the free trade agreement, which, he hoped, would benefit businessmen of both the countries and improve bilateral trade. It was agreed at the gathering that the ICCI would consider sending a business delegation to Tunisia to explore untapped areas of mutual cooperation.