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Pakistan, EU say GSP+ beneficial for trade, sustainable development

December 01, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the European Union acknowledged on Tuesday that the EU’s GSP Plus scheme has been a successful template of trade for development and mutually beneficial trade cooperation when the two sides met during the 8th Round of Pakistan-European Union political dialogue held in Brussels.

“Acting Foreign Secretary Jauhar Saleem and Enrique Mora, Deputy Secretary General of European External Action Service (EEAS), led their respective sides. Both sides noted the special significance of this round of political dialogue, marking the 60th anniversary of Pakistan-EU relations,” said the Foreign Office.

Sharing Pakistan’s position on the proposal for new GSP Plus scheme, the acting foreign secretary expressed the hope that mutual objectives, including sustainable development, poverty alleviation and employment generation will be appropriately prioritised in the new scheme.

Earlier, speaking in Karachi, the Ambassador of Belgium, Charles Delonge, said that the EU parliament will be determining new regulations under the 10-year Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+) scheme which is likely to affect the duty-free access for textiles, clothing and leather items currently being exported from Pakistan. The GSP+ scheme is set to expire on December 31, 2023. “Of course, this change has implications in the field of human rights and the EU will probably be more demanding and would also like to see progress in the environmental policy. The idea is to not only have free trade but to also promote societal values,” he said, adding that because of GSP+, the EU was by far Pakistan’s main partner in trade with overall trade of around €7 billion per annum, which was very impressive.

Expressing satisfaction with the positive trajectory of the relations, they agreed to continue working together to further broaden bilateral cooperation. Both sides agreed to explore opportunities for cooperation under the EU’s flagship programs like Global Gateway and Horizon Europe.

They also welcomed the recent launch of a comprehensive dialogue on migration and mobility. ”The dialogue will provide an institutionalised platform for legal pathways for migration to Europe, seek talent partnerships, and enable effective implementation of the Pakistan–EU readmission agreement”, hopes Pakistan.

The Ukraine conflict was also raised during the political dialogue with the Acting Foreign Secretary, reiterating Pakistan’s principled stance for universal and consistent application of UN Charter Principles, including non-use or threat of use of force, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, pacific settlement of disputes and equal security for all states to ensure lasting peace and security.

“Pakistan continued to call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and stressed the need for diplomacy and dialogue for an early, negotiated end to the Ukraine conflict,” added the Foreign Office.

The dialogue covered a broad range of subjects in the context of Pakistan–EU relations, as well as regional and global developments. Both sides underlined the importance they attached to their multifaceted partnership. The acting Foreign Secretary appreciated the timely and invaluable humanitarian assistance provided by the European Union for the victims of the massive climate-induced floods in Pakistan. He underscored that as a key trade and development partner, the EU’s continued support would be pivotal in helping Pakistan effectively carry out rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, and to build the damaged infrastructure in a climate-resilient manner.

He also conveyed Pakistan’s keenness to diversify the scope of trade, investment and development cooperation between Pakistan and the EU.

The Acting Foreign Secretary apprised the Deputy Secretary General of the dire human rights situation in the Indian Illegally-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K). He called upon the international community to use its influence to urge India to honour its commitment to the UNSC Resolutions.

He also highlighted that Indian illegal and unilateral actions of August 5, 2019, were aimed at undermining the internationally-recognised disputes, and altering the demographic structure of the IIOJ&K were a blatant violation of the UNSC resolutions, 4th Geneva Convention and international law.

Taking note of the multiple, complex challenges confronting Afghanistan, the Acting Foreign Secretary reiterated the importance of sustained engagement of the international community with the Interim Afghan Government to ensure the well-being of Afghan people. Both sides agreed to hold the next round of the political dialogue in Islamabad in 2023.

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