“We are working to boost Pak-Tunisia trade to the maximum”
The Consul editorial team had a detailed interview with the Tunisian Ambassador to Pakistan Borhene El kamel. Excerpts from the interview are produced below:
Question: Excellency, you have taken over as the new Ambassador of Tunisia in Pakistan. Kindly tell us something about your life and career.
Answer: I am a career diplomatic and joined service in 1989. Previously I have served in Indonesia, South Africa and Canada.
Q: Which of these assignments you liked most?
Ans: I can’t say a particular country. Each country has its special flavor and uniqueness and you make special friends there. Climate in Canada is extreme. But in South Africa it is moderate.
Q: What is your experience of Pakistan?
Ans: Feeling at home. I find people very friendly here. I like to interact with people. In Tunisia we do it. In our country we receive tourists from all over the world. I feel comfortable here and am looking forward to further developing relations between our two countries and bringing people together.
Q: Pakistan and Tunisia have long historical and cultural relations and they also have good political ties. How do you think these relations can be further strengthened?
Ans: An important way to achieve the goal is to promote people to people contacts. Our people don’t know each other much. We must promote exchanges at all levels– media, business, tourism. In Tunisia we have tourists from all over the world. But few Pakistanis go to Tunisia. We have an ancient history and culture. Ibne Khaldun was from Tunisia. The old name of our country was Carthage which fought many battles with Rome.
Q: Pakistan-Tunisian economic and trade relations are much below their potential. How can trade between the two brotherly countries be further boosted?
Ans: We want Pakistani businessmen and investors to visit Tunisia. As Ambassador it is my objective to promote trade between the two countries. I am working at the official level and also networking with businessmen. We are going to have a big international Air and Defence Exhibition in Tunisia in April and Pakistan must come. Similarly Tunisian businessmen will take part in trade shows here. I have plannedd to arrange B2B meetings. I may add here that Tunisia is a big producer of olive oil which is of superior quality.
Q: What are the major exports of Tunisia?
Ans: Apart from olive oil, we produce phosphate and fertilisers which we export to Bangladesh and countries. Tunisia also makes electronic and automotive components for the air industry. We also have a range of ICT products and specialize in finished textiles. We also produce dates which are of light colour and high quality.
Q: Tunisia is gateway to Africa and Europe trade. Pakistan has developed a Look Africa policy. How Tunisia fits into this policy framework?
Ans: Recently a Pakistan delegation along with Commerce Minister Razzak Dawood visited some African countries and also interacted with Tunisian businessmen. I may add here that Africa Development Banki s a mega bank which is supporting development projects in Tunisia and other countries.
Q: What are the directions of your trade?
Ans: We are mainly focused on French speaking countries. We are soon planning to hold a conference focused on business and trade prospects in North Africa.
Q: What can Tunisia export to Pakistan? Also joint ventures.
Ans: Mainly phosphates and electronic components. There is good scope for the export of Pakistani football and other sports goods to Tunisia. As for joint ventures between the two countries, textiles and electronics industries hold good prospects.
Q: Joint Ministerial Commission meeting are not held frequently. The same is the case with Business Forum.
Ans: The ninth meeting of the Commission was held in 2018 in Tunis. A textile delegation will visit in March. We are soon going to sign a preferential trade agreement for specific products.
Q: Do you agree that by relaxing the visa policy, people to people and cultural exchanges between the two countries can be increase.
Ans: I agree. We have an open visa policy and expedite grant of visa to those wishing to visit Tunisia.
Q: Any message for Pakistani people?
Ans: Pakistanis are friendly and hospitable people. My best wishes for them. It is a beautiful country. I hope to enjoy my stay here.