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June 23, 2021

GSP Plus status extension: SCCI assures EU envoy of cooperation to all conventions implementation

PESHAWAR: Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) President, Sherbaz Bilour, has assured the chamber will fully cooperate to ensure the implementation of all relevant European Union (EU) conventions to reap the benefits of Generalised Scheme of Preferences — (GSP Plus status in an efficient manner as that has granted Pakistani products a duty-free access to the European market.

He said this while talking to Mrs Androulla Kaminara, Ambassador of European Union to Pakistan, during her visit to the SCCI here on Tuesday, said a press release.

SCCI Senior Vice-President Engineer Manzoor Elahi, Vice-President Junaid Altaf, Executive Committee members, importers, exporters and traders were present on the occasion. Sherbaz Bilour said that the GSP Plus status, which was granted by the EU to ensure duty-free entry of Pakistani products into the EU market, has now been extended by European Commission till 2022. He urged the government of Pakistan to ensure implementation of all conventions to enhance Pakistan’s exports to the EU market.

Hailing the increase in the export of Pakistani products to the EU market after granting GPS Plus status, the SCCI chief urged the EU to assist the businesses and economy of KP which had been hit by terrorism, extremism and Covid-19.

Mrs Androulla Kaminara said that after the granting of GSP plus status, the export of Pakistani products to the EU markets had increased by 33 per cent, mostly in the textile sector. She said there was huge potential for the exports of Pakistani fresh fruits and food items to the EU market.

Referring to the recent EU review report 2020, she said Pakistan had signed almost 27 conventions, out of which improvement was seen on some of them, including transgender, human rights and journalists protection.

However, she said, the government spent two years making legislation for the protection of the journalist community. But, she emphasized, there was a need to expedite reforms and steps for legislation on disappearance, torture, abuse, blasphemy and inspection on factories to meet all EU obligations.

Mrs Androulla Kaminara made it clear that progress on reforms and implementation of conventions was reviewed after every two years, adding the special trade incentive like GSP status was withdrawn if the country was found not fully abiding by obligations in the light of the report. However, she said in the 2020 review report, Pakistan had gained a significant improvement in certain areas but a lot of work needed to be done in other sectors as well. She hoped that Pakistan will accelerate reforms and legislation process by fully adhering to the EU commitments.

The EU envoy said the EU and Pakistan Business Council would be formed to cement the bilateral trade and economic ties. She invited the KP business community to associate with this council.

Mrs Androulla Kaminara noted that there was a great potential available in information technology, especially in KP gems and jewellery, mining, tourism and handicraft sector, which need to be tapped in an efficient manner.