ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Pakistan’s exports to the European Union (EU) soared 37 percent during the last three years on the back of generalised scheme of preferences (GSP) plus status, the Commerce Minister has revealed.
“The GSP status offers huge potential for enhancing mutual trade between Pakistan and EU,” Federal Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir said in a statement carried in the Gulf Today on Monday.
Dastgir, in a meeting with member of the committee on international trade in the European parliament Jan Zahradil, said export of machinery, chemicals and dyes from Europe to Pakistan also rose 14 percent. “These products were required to meet the growing demand of Pakistani products, particularly textiles and garments in the European markets”.
In December 2013, the EU awarded GSP Plus status to Pakistan, which would give zero tariffs to 20 percent and preferential rates to 70 percent of the country’s exports to the region. The status is valid till 2017.
Annual bilateral trade between Pakistan and the EU is more than $7 billion. Balance of trade is nearly equal.
Pakistan’s main exports to EU consist of textile and leather products and medical equipment. The GSP Plus status was expected to boost Pakistan’s exports to two billion dollars in addition to create job opportunities.
The biggest beneficiary of the tax concessions is textile and clothing industry, constituting over 60 percent of the Pakistan’s exports. The country’s rivals Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are also enjoying duty-free access to the 28-member EU bloc.
Under the GSP Plus, Pakistan has to comply with all the 27 United Nations conventions on human rights and labour and environmental laws. Dastgir apprised Zahradil about various steps being taken by Pakistan to improve working conditions in the manufacturing sector and law and order and human rights.
“The focus of Pakistan has shifted towards strengthening its economy through trade rather than aid,” he said. He accentuated correlation of economic progress with peace and stability of any country.
“Economic and social indicators are on the rise in Pakistan,” he added. Dastgir also held meetings with Pakistani-origin members of the European parliament, member European parliament and former head of committee on foreign relations. Secretary commerce Azmat Ranjha accompanied the minister in the meetings.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has agreed to share its experience and provide technical assistance for Kyrgyzstan that is keen to make inroads into the European Union market under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus, a mechanism under which duties are eliminated or drastically reduced. Pakistan’s response came after Kyrgyzstan sought help in that regard in a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) of the two countries held on January 11 and 12, an official said.
The JMC huddle came after a long gap of 10 years. “Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian nation, expressed interest in learning from Pakistan’s experience in making exports to the 28-nation EU market,” the official said.