In a bid to boost trade volume between Nigeria and Pakistan, which is currently pegged at $210m, the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Aviation, is working out modalities to begin direct air services to the Asian country.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, led a delegation to Islamabad, Pakistan, where he met with different government officials in civil aviation, trade, and commerce to foster economic and trade relations.

Sirika, who spoke through his Special Assistant, James Odaudu, in a statement, noted that the mission, which was facilitated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria in collaboration with the Africa Center for Asia +B Studies enabled the minister to engage with the acting secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Aviation, the president of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the country’s minister of commerce.

The statement disclosed that at the meeting with the Acting Secretary of Aviation of Pakistan, Mr Hassan Nafir, Sirika and his host agreed to take concrete steps towards the commencement of direct flights between Nigeria and Pakistan, in order to promote trade and tourism.

According to the statement, “It was also disclosed that they agreed that the subsisting Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Nigeria and Pakistan should be revitalised within the shortest possible time.

“To actualise the plan, a directive was given to officials of both countries present at the meeting to immediately meet to review the BASA and come up with a workable memorandum of understanding that would ensure the early commencement of direct flights. They both expressed the view that the volume of passengers traffic should quadruple from the 7,300 recorded last year, as it was noted that the two countries have the advantage of a large population that would make the dream a reality.”

Receiving the minister of aviation and his delegation, the President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Ahsan Bakhtawari, expressed delight for the minister’s visit as it would provide the latitude to lay a solid foundation for the promotion of trade relations between Nigeria and Pakistan.

He decried the volume of trade between Nigeria and Pakistan, valued at $210 million, and stated that efforts should be made towards improving it, through the promotion of business-to-business talks, the establishment of the Nigeria-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, and visit of trade delegations from both sides.

The President of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce was of the view that trade between Nigeria and Pakistan could only be bolstered if there was a direct flight linking both countries and urged the minister to facilitate it. According to Sirika, flight connectivity has a greater role in cementing bilateral and economic relations between friendly nations of the world.

He promised to facilitate the process before the end of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, whose government had done so well to promote the development of civil aviation in Nigeria.

At the meeting with Mr Syed Qamar, the Pakistani minister of commerce, Sirika and his host agreed that efforts should be made to improve the level of trade between both countries and air link was identified as one of the major catalysts. The need for both governments to look at the issue of visa restrictions was stressed for the purposes of boosting trade, tourism and commerce.

He informed the Pakistani minister of commerce that there were a lot of business opportunities in the aviation sector in Nigeria, emphasising that the four international airports in the country had been designated as Economic Free Trade Zones with all the advantages that go with such designations.


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