ISLAMABAD - The Ambassador of Spain Carlos Morale hosted a reception to mark the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Spain and Pakistan on the occasion of Spain’s national day.

Federal Minister for Commerce, Khurram Dastagir Khan was the chief guest on the occasion. The reception stared with a short film of 15 minutes which highlighted Spain’s achievements in all areas of life from support to art and architect. It was the first diplomatic reception in which there were only two chairs on the stage one for the ambassador and other for the chief guest. There was no hustle and bustle on the stage and ambassador and chief guest left the stage soon after their speeches to interact with the audience. They exchanged pleasantries and discussions on various aspects.

Khurram Dastagir in his speech said that Pakistan awards great importance to its relations with Spain both bilaterally and with regards to the European Union.

He said, “Our bilateral relations are marked by the shared perception on regional and international issues. He encouraged the progress of bilateral relations in all fields including trade investment, defence, energy, education and culture.

He further added that high level visits from the two sides could help to further enhance the bilateral relations.  In the field of defence, he appreciated cooperation between the two countries and showed interest in further boost of its defence cooperation.

He said that both countries have good potential to enhance collaboration in the field of culture and education. More than 100,000 from Pakistani community living in Spain act as a bridge between Spain and Pakistan and more efforts should be done to promote people-to-people contact between the two countries. Pakistan is positive and hopes that its relation in coming days will grow with Spain further, he said.

In his speech, he stressed to expand trade and economic cooperation between two countries. He said, “Our bilateral trade for the period 2015-16 has reached $920 million and hoped that these trends will further improve. He added that Pakistan is an investor-friendly country and its liberal investment policy can benefit Spanish investors in various sectors. Particularly, in backdrop of China Pakistan Economic Corridor, Pakistan represents an attractive investment destination. He also indicated huge scope for collaboration in new areas of cooperation like gems, jewellery, pharmaceutical, poultry, feed, fashion clothing, ceramic tiles and capital goods.

The Spanish Ambassador in his speech said that the year 2016 marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Spain.

He added that both countries are on a positive path. Last June, Foreign Secretary, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, went to Spain for the 3rd round of the annual bilateral consultations, a mechanism which has brought both countries closer.  He further added that the bilateral trade has doubled in the last five years, from less than 500 million US dollars in 2010 to more than 1.1 billion dollars in 2015. He mentioned that Spain has become the 7th destination of Pakistani exports in the world.

He further said, “If this expanding pattern continues, we will likely break a new record in our trade figures by the end of this year.”

He further added that Spanish companies and investors should be encouraged to come to Pakistan. He appreciated the efforts for the improvement of both security situation and the business environment in Pakistan.

He said that Spanish companies have promoted trade relations by doing good business and have also transferred technology to their Pakistani counterparts.

There is enormous potential to work together in other fields such as tourism, since Spain is the second country in the world in terms of tourism revenue and the third in the number of visitors.

He said more than 100,000 Pakistanis working in Spain have increasingly connected two societies and they are part of Spanish culture.

He also added, “Spanish language is our most important asset and to get more familiar with Spanish language and culture in Pakistan 400th anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote and a series of events, public readings and flamenco performances have been organized in this regards.

-The writer is a freelance contributor.