The decision to continue the GSP Plus status for Pakistan will be made on the basis of biannual review during next week by the parliament of European Union (EU). Addressing the members of Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry here on Monday, Jean Francois Cautain Ambassador of the EU said that GSP Plus (Generalize System of Preference) was granted to 10 least developed countries including Pakistan from January 2014.
Under this facility duty free access was accorded to the products of these countries to the European markets. He told that this scheme was benefited by the least developed countries which were also linked with the implementation of various international agreements, conventions and protocols including women empowerment, child labor, drug trafficking and environmental changes etc.
He said that European Union accounts for 20 percent of Pakistani external trade with Pakistani exports to the European Union amounting to US$3.4 billion. It mainly consists of textiles, medical equipment and leather products while the European Union exports to Pakistan amounting to US$3.4 billion consist mainly of mechanical and electrical equipment, and chemical and pharmaceutical products, he said. He told that biannual review of GSP Plus facility has been completed and European Union commission had submitted its report while European Union parliament will now decide to continue this facility till 2020. However he was reluctant to comment on this report and told that it will not be fair to pass any comment on it at this moment. Regarding new five year strategic engagement plan between Pakistan and European Union, Jean Francois told that first plan has been completed from 2012-17 and new plan is expected to be finalized during next month.
"It will provide a tool to further strengthen bilateral relations between Pakistan and European Union with a focused approach on education and human resource development etc," he added. Responding to industrial phase of CPEC, he told that many European companies are considering participating in it which will bring a new FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) to Pakistan. "It will have spillover effects over the entire economy of Pakistan," he remarked.
Jean Francois told that he is encouraging Business to Business (B2B) meetings to promote bilateral trade between Pakistan and European Union. He said that security situation in Pakistan have improved considerably yet there still is a room to further improve it to attract foreign investment from EU which will also pave way for fresh foreign investment from the entire world.
Husnain A Iftakhar Senior Economist and Trade Officer told that a help desk is available in Embassy of European Union in Islamabad which could provide latest trade related information to the Pakistani exporters. Earlier in his address of welcome acting President FCCI Sheikh Farooq Yousaf told that Pakistan is enjoying good diplomatic and economic links with European Union. He also appreciated aid of euro700 million for Pakistan by EU. Lauding the GSP Plus status granted to Pakistan by European Union, he hoped that this status will be maintained during 2nd review of this facility. He said that European Union is one of the major economic blocks of the world.
During 2015 the annual trade volume between Pakistan and European Union was 7 billion dollars. "Share of Pakistan in imports of European Union is 23 percent while Pakistani exports to European Union are USD3.4 billion," he said and added that among these include mechanical and electrical appliances, chemical and pharmaceutical. He told that after the grant of GSP plus facility Pakistani exports to European Union recorded an increase of 55 percent with 35 percent share of textile products.
He also expressed satisfaction over the 5 year joint Pakistan European Union engagement program and hoped that CPEC will provide investment opportunities for European Union countries to invest and profit from their investment. He told that FCCI has demanded the construction of new international Airport and European Union companies could also invest in the design and construction of this mega project. He also stressed the need to arrange single country exhibitions in different potential markets of European Union on reciprocal basis in order to give a quantum jump to our bilateral trade.