Tuesday July 23, 2024

‘EU extends GSP Plus status to Pakistan till 2022’

By Khalid Mustafa & Mehtab Haider
March 07, 2020

ISLAMABAD: In a major development, European Commission has extended Generalised Scheme of Preferences -- (GSP+) status till 2022. This means Pakistan will continue to enjoy preferences under GSP Plus on its exports to EU countries.

Since the grant of GSP Plus in 2014, Pakistan’s exports to the European Union have enhanced from 4.538 billion euros in 2013 to 7.492 billion euros in 2019, registering an increase of 65 percent.

The main sectors that benefited from GSP Plus have been textile and garments, which besides earning foreign exchange for the country, provided employment opportunities, especially for females.

This was announced by Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Industry and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood in a tweet on Friday.

Mr Dawood thanked the European Union institutions for allowing the country to avail itself of the status and also applauded federal and provincial authorities and Ministry of Commerce’s treaty implementation cell for striving hard to meet the GSP plus obligations.

“This would strengthen our resolve to continue to improve the social and economic conditions of our people. I urge the business community to diversify their exports to capitalise on this opportunity to the optimum,” said Mr Dawood.

Meanwhile a statement issued on Friday late night by Ministry of Commerce says that there is a clear indication that the EU authorities are satisfied with the results of 3rd Biennial Assessment of GSP Plus and are focused on the next biennial monitoring cycle.

The 3rd Biennial Assessment of GSP was published by the European Commission on February 10, 2020. As per GSP Regulation, the Commission and European External Action Service (EEAS) has to submit a report to the European Parliament and European Council on the performance of GSP Scheme and the status of compliance of GSP beneficiary countries on the 27 international conventions covered under the Regulation.

On the economic front, Pakistan was a significant beneficiary of the benefits availed by 9 GSP Plus beneficiary countries. Besides Pakistan, other beneficiaries of GSP Plus include Armenia, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Philippines and Sri Lanka. Out of total export of 6.739 billion euro of Pakistan to EU in 2018, our exports worth 5.885 billion euro availed tariff concessions.

As far as implementation of 27 international conventions is concerned, the report appreciated Pakistan in taking positive steps in the areas of climate change, forestation under billion tree tsunami project, improved vigilance to combat illicit narcotics and wildlife trade, political and administrative reforms to integrate erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), social protection initiatives like Ehasas Programnme, promotion of Inter-Faith Harmony including opening of Kartarpur Corridor and legislation to ensure the rights of women, children and transgender.

The report was discussed in the International Trade (INTA) Committee of EU Parliament on 19th February, 2020 and in the GSP Working Party of the European Council on 26th February, 2020.The European Commission and External Action Service recommended at both the forums to continue GSP Scheme and stated their monitoring priorities for the next biennial monitoring cycle, which are given in the report. There is a clear indication that the EU authorities are satisfied with the results of 3rd Biennial Assessment of GSP Plus and are focused on the next biennial monitoring cycle.

In view of the outcome of 3rd Biennial Review of GSP so far, the Ministry of Commerce commended the efforts of all the ministries and departments of the federal and provincial governments, including AJK and GB, which cooperated and formulated laws, developed policies and established institutions to implement the 27 conventions related to GSP Plus. The Ministry of Commerce also appreciated the contribution of the office of the Attorney General for Pakistan as head of the Treaty Implementation Cell for coordinating and steering the process of the implementation of GSP related conventions.

Pakistan would continue to engage with the European Commission under the GSP Regulation framework and cooperate in their monitoring efforts. Pakistan is totally committed to implement the 27 international conventions, which is our constitutional obligation and blends well with the people centric priorities of the government. It is an ongoing process and Pakistan is slowly and surely heading towards the common objectives.

On behalf of the government of Pakistan, Ministry of Commerce takes this opportunity to convey the gratitude to European Union for providing this unilateral trade concession to Pakistan. Ministry of Commerce hopes that the business community will capitalise further on this trade enhancement opportunity.