Ice­land and South Asia – a great po­ten­tial for co­op­er­a­tion

The people of Ice­land are the friendli­est in the world, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum. Yet most Pak­ista­nis do not know of their 37 years of friendly ties with Ice­land. The Hon­orary Con­sul Gen­eral of the Repub­lic of Ice­land in Pak­istan,

Southasia - - ICELAND TODAY -

Your Ex­cel­lency, how does it feel to rep­re­sent the Ice­landic people in Pak­istan?

I am hon­ored to rep­re­sent Ice­land in Pak­istan. In 1977, my fa­ther Mr. K. Mah­moodul­lah be­came the first Hon­orary Con­sul Gen­eral of Ice­land to Pak­istan. It has been over 37 years now that our fam­ily has proudly rep­re­sented the people of Ice­land in Pak­istan.

Does Ice­land have sig­nif­i­cant trade with the South Asian re­gion?

Ice­land and In­dia have mul­ti­ple agree­ments and MoUs for pro­mo­tion of trade re­la­tions. These agree­ments range from dou­ble tax avoid­ance to co­op­er­a­tion in re­new­able en­ergy, sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, fish­eries de­vel­op­ment and cul­tural ex­change. Ice­land’s ex­ports to In­dia in 2011 were recorded at $4.6 mil­lion, com­pris­ing pri­mar­ily of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, metal prod­ucts and me­chan­i­cal ap­pli­ances. In­dia’s ex­ports to Ice­land were at $43.7 mil­lion, con­sist­ing pri­mar­ily of or­ganic chem­i­cals, man­u­fac­tured goods and trans­port equip­ment.

What im­por­tant projects is Ice­land pur­su­ing in the South Asia and how are they im­pact­ing the lo­cal econ­omy?

Pak­istan’s neighbor In­dia has Ice­landic com­pa­nies en­gaged in re­newal en­ergy projects, sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy co­op­er­a­tion and fish­eries de­vel­op­ment. Ice­landic com­pa­nies have busi­ness in­ter­ests in phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, plas­tics, tur­bines, IT and re­new­able en­ergy con­cerns op­er­at­ing in In­dia. These ven­tures are ben­e­fit­ing the lo­cal econ­omy in cre­ation of jobs, trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy and skills and achiev­ing eco­nomic self-re­liance in the long run. Ice­land can help Pak­istan in ad­dress­ing its en­ergy deficit and rev­o­lu­tion­ize its fish­eries sec­tor. Would you like to give us an over­view of the econ­omy of Ice­land?

The Forbes mag­a­zine ranked Ice­land as the 15th best coun­try for busi­ness in the world, just be­hind the USA. As per the an­nual sta­tis­tics of 2013 the un­em­ploy­ment rate is sta­ble at 5.4%, the an­nual aver­age growth rate of Gross Na­tional In­come is at 2.2% whereas the GNI has grown by 11% and the GDP has grown by 3.3%. This makes Ice­land one of the world’s more sta­bly grow­ing economies and the Ice­landic people as one of the most vi­brant mar­ket for in­vestors. What is the rea­son for the ro­bust­ness and sus­tain­abil­ity of the econ­omy of Ice­land? What lessons are there for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity?

The Pres­i­dent of Ice­land, Óla­fur Rag­nar Gríms­son in his speech at the Meet­ing of OECD Am­bas­sadors in Paris in early 2013 in­tro­duced the term ‘Clean En­ergy Econ­omy’ in his speech sig­ni­fies the rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion of Ice­land’s en­ergy sys­tem which now pro­duces 100% of Ice­land’s elec­tric­ity and al­most 100% of house heat­ing through hy­dro and geo­ther­mal. But the ef­fects are far be­yond than just heat­ing houses and pro­duc­ing elec­tric­ity. Far less costly than the other Euro­pean coun­tries, this clean en­ergy has helped the econ­omy to at­tract huge for­eign in­dus­trial in­vest­ments across high-tech in­dus­tries, IT com­pa­nies, data stor­age cen­tres, alu­minium smelters and other thriv­ing en­ter­prises. The les­son to share with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity lies in shar­ing Ice­land’s ex­per­tise in uti­liz­ing re­new­able en­ergy like hy­dro and geo­ther­mal which are highly rel­e­vant to the South Asian twin economies. De­spite the cold weather of Ice­land, is the tourism sec­tor grow­ing rapidly?

Yes the tourism sec­tor or may I say eco-tourism is rapidly grow­ing in Ice­land. In 2013 nearly a mil­lion tourists vis­ited Ice­land. It may in­ter­est hold­ers of Schen­gen Visa to know that they can en­ter Ice­land with­out any fur­ther re­quire­ments. Due to the clean en­ergy pol­icy of Ice­land, tourism ini­tially at­tracted Euro­pean neigh­bors to Reykjavik on hol­i­days or even long week­ends. Now pretty much the en­tire Europe and North Amer­ica is on the reg­u­lar vis­i­tors list. The mes­sage is in the bal­ance that Ice­land has been able to main­tain be­tween eco­nomic growth and its nat­u­ral habi­tat. The largely exclusive at­trac­tions that Ice­land of­fers are its nat­u­ral hot springs, the mag­i­cal north­ern lights phe­nom­e­non, breath­tak­ing land­scapes and a very lively sea life sa­fari.

Saad Mah­mood, Hon­orary Con­sul Gen­eral of

the Repub­lic of Ice­land in Pak­istan

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.