A European Union (EU) monitoring mission arrived in Pakistan on Wednesday to assess the effective implementation of the 27 international conventions to which Pakistan is a signatory. The officials are from the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission’s Directorate-Generals for Trade and Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.
The mission was briefed on the child, labour, women and human rights; environment; and other measures for an extension of Pakistan’s GSP+ (Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus) scheme.
Commerce Secretary Saleh Farooqi led the talks from the Pakistani side. The EU Monitoring Commission will also meet the UN country team, International Labour Organization (ILO), business and civil society representatives as well as other stakeholders.
According to sources, the commerce ministry is hopeful about the extension of the country’s GSP+ scheme. The current GSP+ scheme is expiring on December 31, 2023, and the legislative process on its successor for 2024-2033 is underway.
The GSP+ scheme provides broad tariff preferences for imports into the EU from vulnerable developing countries in order to support poverty eradication, sustainable development, and their participation in the global economy, as well as to strengthen good governance.
Eligible countries like Pakistan could export goods to the EU market at zero duties for 66% of tariff lines. This preferential status is conditional on countries demonstrating tangible progress on the implementation of 27 international conventions on human and labour rights, environmental protection, climate change and good governance.
The EU press release said, “GSP+ has been very beneficial for Pakistani business[es], increasing their exports to the EU market by 65pc since the country joined the scheme in 2014”.
As underlined by European Commission’s High Representative and Vice President Josep Borrell Fontelles, “the GSP scheme is all about the EU’s and Pakistan’s joint commitment to sustainable development.”
The European Single Market, with over 440 million consumers, is Pakistan’s most important export destination. Pakistan exports are worth EUR 5.4 billion (around Rs1.2 trillion). Export items include garments, bed linen, terry towels, hosiery, leather, sports, and surgical goods.
The mission’s findings will be included in the next GSP report, which will be presented to the European Parliament and Council near the end of 2022.