Pakistan and Portugal enjoy cordial relations and there is an urge to further bilateral relations by deepening the bond. H.E. Dr. Joao Paulo Marques Sabido Costa, the charge d’affairs of Embassy of Portugal in Pakistan has played a huge role in building the much needed bond. With the belief that the only way forward is to keep on creating and indenting opportunities for cooperation between the two countries at all levels: political, economic, cultural, social and academic, he aims to make each country more aware of the others. While opining about the trade relations between Pakistan and Portugal, H.E. Joao Paulo Marques elaborates that Portugal comes at 8th place among the top exporting destinations and at 12th place among the top importing member states of European Union. According to the available data on recent years, the volume of bilateral trade of goods betwee n Portugal and Pakistan is gradually increasing. In 2016, it reached the total amount of 132 million euros. But H.E. feels that we should try to intensify even more cont acts and dialogue between business men and economic institutio ns of both countries. Both nations converge on the fact that there is a sure need to enhance import tendencies, as there is a whole world to be explored by both countries. Thus, under the able leadership of H . E . Joao Paulo, both nations aim to simplify the route for trade so that cost of commodities should remain economical.
Mr. Joao Paulo Marques has a vision of seeing Pakistan and Portugal as countries engaged in exchange of trade delegations to promote business-to-business linkages to know each other and explore new areas of mutual cooperation. Portugal is ready to provide technology and machinery to Pakistan in many sectors including agriculture, textile, marble, water resources, building and constructions. Since Portugal is close to the European Union (EU) and Sub-Sahara it is good opportunity for Pakistan to develop close cooperation with it to get better market access to European and African regions. Pakistani products are greatly appreciated in other countries such as basmati rice and food items and fruits such as Pakistani grown mangoes are quite popular in Portugal therefore Pakistan should focus on exporting more products to Portuguese market under the Generalized System of Preference (GSP) Plus scheme. Portugal too has many products that may interest Pakistan such as olive oil, however, at the same time, Pakistani producers seem to need machinery and know-how for their endeavors that definitely would be an opportunity for partnerships that goes beyond simple trade. But there is still much to be discovered between both countries. The Charge d’affairs believes that his country has much to offer to Pakistan for which he has offered a ‘golden visa programme’ to attract investments in real estate sector so that Pakistani investors should take benefit of this program. Portugal has PTAs with many countries and by investing in Portugal, Pakistani investors can promote exports to Europe, Africa, Canada and other regions. For this reason, he is working to form a delegation for Portugal to explore new business opportunities.
H.E. Joao Paulo Marques shows great enthusiasm for Pakistani entrepreneurs and has invited them to start joint ventures with their Portuguese counterparts in the sectors of textile, food, rice, information technology, sports goods and agriculture that would be equally beneficial for the both countries. The Charge d’affairs of Portugal Joao Paulo Sabido claimed there is a huge scope for the expansion of two-way trade between Portugal and Pakistan. For this, Pakistani entrepreneurs should focus on Portugal to exploit the untapped market potential for all the traditional and non-traditional products. Between both countries, the need for exchange of trade delegation and chamber-to-chamber contacts has been stressed by representatives on both sides. Pakistani trade delegations would have extremely favorable response for Pakistani products as both countries have longstanding cordial relations. Portuguese Charge d’affairs is cognizant of the services of all Pakistani officials for the enhancement of trade and economic ties between Portugal and Pakistan. The Embassy, in his supervision showed its appreciation and gladness for the visits of Pakistani entrepreneurs and officials and made plans regarding the prospects of investment in Pakistan. Pakistani businessmen are eager to develop close working relations with the Embassy of Portugal as both countries enjoy good diplomatic relations. According to H.E. Joao Paulo Marques, the level of trade between Pakistan and Portugal is not up to the mark although Pakistan is having favourable balance of trade with Portugal and overall trade is also growing for the last three years. Portugal has good expertise in energy generation through renewable sources and it plans to cooperate with Pakistan in easing its energy problems. Both countries also have good potential to exchange expertise in the fields of education, science and information technology while promotion of tourism would strengthen bilateral relations. Portugal claims to be quite strong in high technology and has shown generosity to cooperate with Pakistan to manufacture value added and hi-tech products. Considering the relationship as a significant one, both sides can learn with each other and can gain from a continued exchange. This is exemplified by the environmental issue that is of common interest to both nations. Sports too, is seen as a very interesting area because it involves youth and opportunities of social inclusion – much needed nowadays. Especially that Pakistan has a very youthful population, certainly plenty of skillful sportsmen and women and in sports like football (soccer) would benefit from Portugal’s experience in coaching and high level training. On the other side, Portuguese youth can discover sports in which Pakistanis are masters, like cricket. Besides sports, there is a need for the exchange of students for which he stressed the need to intensify cooperation between schools, universities and research centers between both countries.
H.E. Joao Paulo Marques claims that both countries are reviewing and updating the bilateral documents on cultural cooperation. But cultural cooperation, between both sides is not only unilaterally promoting each one’s culture, but developing the knowledge of our mutual cultural heritage shared in multiple fields, as well as to cooperate in international entities like UNESCO whether helping each other to prepare and document our candidatures to recognition as World Heritage of our cultural sites or submitting joint candidatures like it has been the case of the Art of Falconry. Under the able and most visionary leadership of Mr. Joao Paulo Marques, the prospects of Pakistan and Portugal relations are looking increasingly good. And expect to continue growing and going forward. These positive sentiments are what the Pakistani nation needs from its friends. That both should work towards an upward direction to benefit not only the state, but the citizens as well. In modern world, Portugal and Pakistan enjoy very cordial relations. Both countries are working together to enhance mutual cooperation in variety of sectors including trade and people to people contacts. To mark these friendly relations history, on the occasion of the 65th Anniversary of Presentation of Credentials by the First Portuguese Diplomatic Envoy to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, The Charge d’affairs of the Republi c of Portugal Mr Joao Paulo Sabido Costa in collaboration with Diplomatic Focus/Diplomatic counci l (DC), a grand reception was hosted last year in September. Mian Fazal Elahi of Diplomatic Focus and Mr. Joao Paulo Sabido Costa were the host of this magnificent ceremony in which a large number of notables from different walks of life participated to express their solidarity and warm feelings for both countries relations. Ambassadors of many other countries were also present. Mian Fazal Elahi suggested that people to people contacts and VVIP delegates’ visits are key to increasing the present cordial relations into stronger and robust cooperation. While Charge d’affairs of the Republic of Portugal, Mr. Joao Paulo Sabido Costa presented a brief about history of establishment of relations. He said that Pakistan and Portugal share a long history together that, eventually, spreads over several centuries, to the independence of Pakistan.
But most important in order to underline the friendship between both countries, is to recall the first Portuguese Diplomatic Envoy, who presented credentials in Karachi in 1952,65 years ago. He claimed that in 1949 the Portuguese government published a decree deciding the opening of a diplomatic mission in Karachi. Moreover, at Pakistan’s 70th Anniversary, H.E. offered his felicitations to Pakistan for all the wellbeing and progress achieved by the country along all those years. He claimed that for Portugal, it is honour to be a friend of Pakistan due to the respect both countries share towards its people, history and relevant role performed within the international society. Ambassador of Brazil, H.E. Claudio Lins, being a great friend and associate congratulated Portugal and Pakistan on celebrating 65 years of friendship. He said that Mr. Joao Paulo Sabido Costa was a sweet diplomat and praised the new initiatives he took for strengthening the bilateral relations. Portugal is an important country with a dynamic role in world community. Pakistan attaches great importance to relations with Portugal. Both countries can further enhance their cooperation with the exchange of delegations from different spheres of life. H.E. Joao Paulo Sabido Costa certainly needs to be lauded for cementing the mutual ties with his hard work and concentration on his work. Centuries ago, a Portugeues dared to travel the longest sea route bringing closer the East and the West. And today another Portugeues is further promoting centuries old relations into a meaningful and mutually beneficial friendship.
Contributed by Amna Malik
Author is the President, Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR) and Editor-in-Chief of ‘Mélange’ and ‘ The Asian Telegraph’