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EU extends Pakistan’s GSP-Plus status

BRUSSELS: The European Union (EU) has extended Pakistan’s Generalised System of Preferences plus (GSP-Plus) status after the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade expressed satisfaction on the progress achieved by the country in enacting new laws for implementation of 27 core conventions of GSP plus, especially the National Action Plan for Human Rights, ARY News reported on Wednesday.

Pakistan is one of the 10 beneficiaries of EU’s GSP+ Scheme. As a result of duty free access available to Pakistan in 28 member states Pakistan’s exports to the EU have increased from 4.54 billion Euros in 2013 to 6.29 billion Euros in 2016 which implies an increase of 38%.

According to an official statement, a meeting of International Trade Committee (INTA) was held in Brussels at the European Parliament to discuss the second biennial assessment report of GSP+. The statement said the parliament hoped that Pakistan would continue to engage with the EU and ensure to bridge implementation gaps during the next two years of reporting on GSP+.

The committee also agreed to deliberate upon possibility of up-scaling relationship with Pakistan from a beneficiary of GSP+ scheme to an FTA partner in future. The process of monitoring of compliance of GSP+ for next biennial assessment report for 2018-2019 would start in March 2018 by the European Commission.

Younus Dagha, Secretary Commerce had travelled to Brussels to follow developments with regard to on-going deliberations by the EU Parliament and to undertake necessary engagements with policymakers in European Parliament, European External Action Service and European Commission. He attended the meeting of EU’s Committee on International Trade (INTA) on 20th February, 2018 and will also make a presentation to the European Council tomorrow on Pakistan’s case for retaining GSP+.

Commerce Ministry has claimed that during the discussions that took place in the meeting of INTA, the Committee noted the positive economic impact of the GSP+ scheme on the beneficiary countries and it has been useful in encouraging countries to undertake necessary steps for promoting principles of good governance and sustainable development.

European Commission and the European External Action Service had prepared a Joint Staff Document evaluating steps taken by the beneficiary countries to comply with UN Conventions pertaining to human rights, labour rights, narcotics control and corruption.

The section pertaining to Pakistan appreciated legislative and institutional measures undertaken to improve the Human Rights regime in Pakistan. It specifically appreciated establishment of National Human Rights Commission and National Action Plan for Human Rights among other measures.

During the session it was announced that GSP+ monitoring missions shall undertake visits to Pakistan, Philippines, Kyrgyzstan and Bolivia in second half of 2018 to interact with stakeholders engaged in implementation of mandatory conventions for GSP+.

This duty free access has been crucial for Pakistani products to maintain their competitiveness in the EU market vis-à-vis similar products originating from India, Turkey, Vietnam and China. Naghmana Hashmi, Ambassador of Pakistan to the EU and Omar Hameed, Economic Minister of Pakistan to the EU also accompanied Secretary Commerce in the meeting of INTA committee.

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